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JCPS annual ‘Showcase of Schools’ returns as district rolls out new student assignment plan

The schools made their case to parents and students in the district. For the first time, JCPS families were met with new options not seen in the district in decades.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) held its first school showcase since creating the new student assignment plan, rolled out in phases beginning with incoming kindergarteners, 6th graders and freshman next year.

It's the district's first major overhaul in about 40 years.

This is the only event where all 168 JCPS schools were together under one roof, making their case to parents and students in the school district.

“We’ve been going out and finding people [on] our own,” Cameron Austin, a junior at Seneca High School said. “We really want them to know about the pathways and opportunities that we offer here.”

Parents were met with changes to feeder patterns, school boundaries and the creation of a "Choice Zone," allowing students in west Louisville to choose to attend school in their neighborhood.

“It’s going to be a great thing for our families, for them to know that, ‘I have that option,’” Kym Rice, principal at the Academy at Shawnee, said.

“A lot of new parents are concerned about, ‘how am I going to get my baby home if they're sick?’” Karen Stone, a Slaughter Elementary kindergarten teacher, said.

“The hope is that more students have that opportunity to stay closer to home,” Carolyn Callahan, JCPS communications chief, said. “Everything is set up to make it as easy as possible for folks.”

Though, what may be more overwhelming is just how many options parents are facing.

“Yeah, just a bit. There’s a lot of choices out there so it’s the pressure as a parent to make sure we start that path out correctly,” Jason Smith, a JCPS parent to a fifth grader, said.

Western Middle School for the Arts parent Erin Jewell said her 8th grade son is getting ready for performing arts applications.

“I’m from a little town in southeastern Kentucky where you go to one school, so it’s been a learning experience to me trying to figure out the different types of schools and learning programs and magnet options," Jewell said.

Western principal Hollie Smith said the magnet performing arts school will be looking to attract applicants from all over the district. She's encouraged by the new school choice plan, saying it will give students more buy in with their chosen school.

“When we talk about student sense of belonging and building programs, we want students that choose to be there just because that’ll make the programs flourish," Smith said.

Some JCPS students at the showcase were certain of their school choices heading into the future.

“YPAS is a definite for me. I’m definitely looking at YPAS,” Micah Drake, a seventh grader currently attending Noe Middle School, said. “I’m thinking of like only applying to YPAS.”

Though some are still weighing their options.

Contact reporter Connor Steffen at csteffen@whas11.com or on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

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