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What's New in Jefferson County Public Schools This Year

More than 102,000 Jefferson County Public Schools students are preparing for their first day of class Tuesday.For the school district, Superintendent Donna Hargens says the focus this year is on executing the district’s strategic plan with the resources available.

“Since we have the strategy in place, and the structures in place and the alignment of resources, this '13-'14 school year is all about implementing our strategy. We’re excited about being at this point," Hargens told WFPL in a one-hour special last week.For parents, guardians and the community, here's other information you should know.For information on JCPS buses, including pick up times and routes, click here.For the district's "Back to School" page, click here. It includes health information, school-specific and other program information.Here’s a look at some of the changes you might be interested in knowing going into the 2013-2014 school year.New Elementary Student Assignment PlanThe JCPS school board chose to adopt a new student assignment plan for elementary schools in spring 2012. The plan uses new census data to determine diversity in the district and it groups schools in tighter clusters. The new 13-cluster plan, which can be found here, gives parents fewer schools to choose from but it means around 2,000 students will have shorter transportation times. Schedule for School AssessmentsThe Kentucky Department of Education officials tell WFPL they will tentatively release all annual assessment data during the last week of September.  This will be the first year the results can be compared with the previous year's data and it should show which schools have improved and which are falling short. Click here to access your school's "Report Card."This will be the second year of implementation for the Kentucky Core Academic Standards (also known as the Common Core Standards). About half of the state's teachers say theywant more professional development to teach the standards,according to a statewide teacher survey. The standards raise the bar for what students are expected to learn and are based off international benchmarks. Supporters of the standards say they will help students stay globally competitive.District of InnovationJCPS is one of four Districts of Innovation, which received certain exemptions from KDE regulations. Its plan includes engaging in dialog with citizens to create the next magnet school. Superintendent Donna Hargens says JCPS will begin the process this fall and the new school could look unique, including being housed inside a business or other untraditional school facility.New Contract for TeachersJCPS and the Jefferson County Teachers Association have agreed to a new multi-year contract that includes more choice for principals and schools when hiring new teachers. Teachers will not receive raises this school year.Extended Learning JCPS will provide extended learning services at its 18 persistently low-achieving schools. The district dipped into its savings to fund the $7.5 million initiative that will allow these schools to keep their doors open extra hours three days a week. Students will be able to receive an extra meal, access to teachers and transportation home at a later time.A Few Other Changes

  • JCPS has implemented its new smoking policy, banning anyone from smoking at any JCPS facility or on any school grounds. This also includes chaperones on field trips.
  • Kentucky has implemented a new restraint and seclusion policy, which includes more teacher training and improved parent communication. The new policy allows for restraint and/or seclusion of misbehaving students only in cases of imminent threats.
  • Suspensions have been reduced and JCPS officials say the district’s “Students Response Teams” are part of the reason why. SRTs help mitigate situations that could keep students out of school. By the end of the 2012-2013 school year, suspensions dropped 11 percent over the previous year. African American suspensions were down 7 percent and special schools suspensions were down 18.5 percent over the previous year.
  • The district will implement its Louisville Linked program this year to connect schools and students to non-profit and other partnering agencies.
  • Also, here is a list of new JCPS principals going into the new year:

Nicole Adell—Newburg Middle SchoolWilliam “BJ” Bunton—Wheatley Elementary Alecia Dunn—Bates Elementary Penny Espinosa—Wheeler Elementary Stephen Howard—Dixie Elementary Tiffany Marshall—Audubon Elementary Gerald “Jerry” Mayes—DuPont Manual High School David Mike—Louisville Male High School Laura Mullaney—Gutermuth Elementary Michael Newman—Western High School Kymberly Rice—Western Middle School Rob Stephenson—Valley High School Michael Terry—Jacob Elementary Joshua Williams—Watson Lane Elementary