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JCPS Superintendent Hargens Stays Positive About Low Grad Rates

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens says she’ll use the recently announced decrease in JCPS graduation rates as a catalyst for increasing student achievement.Hargens made her comments during an interview Thursday with the Courier-Journal. JCPS students begin class next Tuesday with a 67.8 percent graduation rate, a drop from 69.3 percent the year before. Hargens said while those numbers are based on the graduation class of 2011, the district should use the information as an opportunity to look at what’s working in JCPS and to continue those efforts.That examination, she said, is already underway.Hargens said while all schools have an academic plan, the most successful schools are already “working on a plan” rather than developing the plan thoughout the school year.This year some of the major changes include the addition of nearly 75 assistant principals in elementary schools, which should relieve some of the administrative duties of both principals and counselors.“It gives parents now two people that know the answers,” she said.When asked what her gut reaction to the low graduation rates was, Hargens hesitated to fully commit to an answer. She told the C-J panel she’s been called stoic before, but she likes to think of herself as methodical.Hargens further said spending more time with staff will be a priority this year and she said she’s making an effort this year to sit down with more employees for coffee.