LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Parents in southwest Jefferson County will have the option of a longer school day and a summer academy for their middle school students under a plan approved Monday.
The Jefferson County Public Schools' Board of Education voted 6-1 in favor of changes at Frost Middle, one of the district's worst-performing schools, and administrators said the plan would boost academic performance.
The proposal includes turning Frost into a 6th grade academy, sending Frost's 7th and 8th grade students to a preparatory school at Valley High, and bringing Phoenix School of Discovery students to Frost.
"We can shout out, we haven't forgotten about students at Frost," board member Chuck Haddaway said. "We haven't forgotten about you, southwest Jefferson County. We do care, and we do want to see you succeed."
Board members said Frost is the most geographically isolated school in the district and ranks among the worst performers on state rankings.
Moving the Phoenix students to the building raised concerns from some, citing an LG&E plant that emits sulfur dioxide behind Frost. The students would attend Frost for up to seven years.
"Would you want your children or grandchildren attending Frost?" asked board member Chris Brady, who voted against the proposal. "My answer is simply, 'No.'"
Superintendent Donna Hargens said regulatory agencies have never notified district administrators that students were unsafe at Frost. If they were, they would be relocated, Hargens said.
Environmentalists came to the meeting, asking why the Phoenix students couldn't move to another building, in a move that would allow district administrators to close Frost.
"As a parent, it tears me up," said Kathy Little, who lives across from another LG&E plant on Cane Run Road. "It kills me to think Jefferson County students would be exposed, and the exposure would be almost seven years."
Other members of the public who spoke at the meeting supported the plan, but said they were concerned that students who needed the extra help wouldn't participate because the extended school day was only optional.
The longer hours and summer school was initially mandatory as part of Hargens' proposal, but administrators changed those plans after meetings with parents and teachers.
The Jefferson County Teachers Association, a union with 5,700 members, didn't endorse the proposal but leaders said it was better after the extended school hours became optional.
"(Administrators) don't seem to understand the difference between feedback after the fact and involving teachers as a part of the process," union president Brent McKim said.
Regardless, the union remains committed to getting students the extra help they need, he said.
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