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Jefferson County School Board Votes To End Four Magnet Programs

The start of school this week at Jefferson County Public Schools will mark the beginning of the end for four district magnet school programs.On Monday night, the Jefferson County Board of Education unanimously voted to end magnet programs at Jacob Elementary, McFerran Elementary, Rangeland Elementary and Rutherford Elementary.The recommendation to end these programs comes months after a system-wide review of the district’s magnet programs found that a handful of schools had programs that were not “magnetic enough,” said Bob Rodosky, the district’s chief data officer. Earlier: Some JCPS Magnet Programs Should be Phased Out, Review Says“What they were doing wasn’t contributing to achievement,” he said.Ten other schools will work to establish a plan of action to improve their programs, Rodosky said. He said school officials believe that those programs can be strengthened.Rodosky said the plan to nix the magnet programs at the four schools came after JCPS staff met with the principals at those schools.“They would really like to give up the magnet and just concentrate on instruction in their building and not on the idea of improving their magnet,” Rodosky said. Jacob's has a "Success for All Accelerated Reading" program; McFerran has a "preparatory academy" program; Rangeland has a "health and fitness" program; and Rutherford has a visual arts program, according to the magnet review.The end of those four magnet programs will free up about $65,000, which Rodosky said can be reallocated toward Schools of Innovation implementation. At Monday's meeting, the school board chose two community-submitted concepts as winners in the competition.Rodosky presented the board with 26 recommendations that address the remaining magnet programs in need of improvement.  He said a “steering committee” will be developed to address those recommendations, which could take up to five years to address them all.He added that recognizing what the best recommendations are is the start of that process.The review was done by Magnet Schools of America and presented to the school board in March.On Monday, board member David Jones Jr. said the district's response to the initial magnet school review was unacceptable.“I think we need to have a timeline and an actual plan for when we are going to get votes together, up or down, on what we are doing with the magnets,” he said.  “We had a very powerful critique of the magnet program come in here and we can’t just sit here and let it linger out there.”Join us for our back-to-school special at 1 p.m. Tuesday on 89.3 WFPL, or stream here at  WFPL.org.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.