Accountability, Admin, Budget, Challenger Learning Center

The Academy @ Shawnee: A History of Disparities Never Corrected

Dear JCPS,

My name is Gay Adelmann, and I am here speaking as a parent of a student at the Academy at Shawnee.

This letter is intended to help you understand a real world challenge that has been happening at one of our lowest performing schools for nearly a decade, maybe longer.

In 2008 after the McFarland v. JCPS ruling and the student assignment was revamped, Shawnee was the only school in the district not to receive any accommodations from that decision. The story that made the front page of the Courier Journal. The Board unanimously voted to make the school K-12 to compensate for this disparity, but it was never implemented. Nothing was done to correct this disparity.

Three years later – School named to Cohort 1 and labeled a priority school – the school lost its SBDM

The school was ranked in the #1 percentile. I wish that was a good thing. It was the worst performing school in the state.

We knew that when we selected the school from the Choices catalog. But my son wanted to be a pilot. We visited the school and we realized the potential that was there. It had a dynamic principal. We saw the promise. The potential. Everything was in place for a turnaround. The resides population is high poverty (90% free and reduced lunch), high transient population, high truancy, high special needs. These gap kids are not keeping up across the district. And we still have the disparity I mentioned earlier.

The Board approved adding a magnet-only middle school to help grow the high school and raise the scores organically. But that would take time, and the magnets currently only made up about 10% of the total school. “Maybe if we could grow the magnet, we could raise the high school test scores sooner,” I thought.

Summer of 2013

Principal Resigned

However We met our goals – went from 1 percentile to 9th percentile. Wow!

Then Beginning of the school year, the District Came out with “The Plan,” went thru 2 interim principals, but with no ownership, there was no one on the ground assessing what would help us meet our goals.

We came before the board. We Said “Wait, Principal before plan,” and you listened.

A New Principal was in place by Christmas

With new principal comes More Teacher Turnover, more changing the way we do things, even if it’s working

Myers Shut down – Our brand new magnet only middle school in its first year, suddenly had to absorb a population that we weren’t ready for and that wasn’t ready for us, and increased our MS population by more than 50%. Moreover, the resides middle school students who are assigned to Shawnee MS were not our resides HS students. So we’re working to grow them, but then we’re going to lose them.

Bad recruiting year with uncertainty of “plan and no principal” looming

End of 2014 School year – We heard, We’ll do better Next Year


Following year, more teacher turnover, went from 5 Nationally Board Certified teachers down to 2.

Yet we Flew an Experiment on Intl Space Station

I made “recruiting” my GCIPL project. Went to various events, recruited students interested in aerospace, which is an 8 billion dollar industry and is the #1 export in the state of KY.

Middle school scored highest in the district.

Added 6 more AP courses and a contract with NASEI for next year. More rigor. Now if we could get consistency in leadership and teaching staff, we could grow the scores

Now, if we could just get more magnet students here, we could grow the scores.

Summer of 2015

Middle school scores dropped 24 points.

Challenger was put on hold and defunded before a new plan was in place.

Principal on leave 2 weeks before end of school year, GCIPL project came to screeching halt. Leads dried up. Open house fell thru. Another lost recruiting year with uncertainty of no principal, and loss of challenger looming.

End of 2015 School Year We’ll do better next year

This summer, Went from 2 natl bd cert teachers now down to 1,

Another 50% teachers left

Asked for consistency. Promote from within.

Principal from another school named 1 day before school starts even though the position had been open all summer.

With new leadership comes more change, more staff turnover.

Lost another AP last week. How is that consistent?

10 weeks into the school year and we still need 3 critical teacher positions filled. Math and English.

Met our AMO. Went from 9th percentile to 16th percentile.

But that is the locked percentile, so we are still labeled priority, because we’re still in the bottom 5% of the state. Because this number is a moving target, based on a single metric, so no matter how well we all do, there will always be a bottom 5%. Another school has to fail for us to succeed

On my son’s 5th principal. Every time someone new comes along turn the ship around. Unfortunately kids get caught in the wake. No consistency in a school where consistency found more than anything.

Priority schools should come first. Yet it’s nothing more than a label. There’s no sense of urgency. Don’t want to keep waiting until next year. More kids are caught in the wake every year. We are being held accountable for things beyond our control. Don’t have an SBDM. Parent and teacher input is heard but ignored. Don’t have KDE $ or support. Our staff know what they are doing but every new administration comes in and tells them to do it different, just when we start to gain momentum, something cuts us off at the knees.

Our kids can’t wait until next year.

The school and staff are amazing. We don’t regret a minute of our decision. But we feel like the red headed stepchild. But we are really the best kept secret.

Aerospace is growing. The time to act is now. With loss of Challenger, we are no longer part of the conversation, no seat at the table in the aerospace industry.

With no more funding and no more KDE support, HOW WILL WE EVER GET OUR OF PRIORITY STATUS? NEXT YEAR OR EVER?


What is the district going to do differently willing to do to truly make us a priority?

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