This post has been updated.
After months of community forums and work sessions, the Jefferson County school board finally approved a facilities proposal to build four new schools in the district Tuesday night.
JCPS expects to spend roughly $120 to $130 million throughout the district to open and renovate schools in the coming 18 to 24 months, superintendent Marty Pollio said.
Missing from the final proposal: A plan to merge high school alternative students onto a single campus. District officials are reviewing the merger plan, plus a larger reimagining of how the district works with some of its most vulnerable students, after concerns from the community and school board members.
JCPS hopes to bring the aspects of the plan dealing with alternative students to a vote in April, a district spokeswoman said last week. The future location of the W.E.B. DuBois Academy, set to add a grade level next fall, should be decided then.
Over 10 stakeholders spoke against the plan before the vote. Many addressed a larger issue of not feeling heard by the board and district officials. Two called the proposal racist and classist for allegedly focusing on East End students instead of poorer areas.
Of the estimated $120 to 130 million spent on the plan, $65 million will be spent in west Louisville, Pollio said. Another $20 million would be spent in south Louisville, $30 to 40 million in the East End and $20 million in Newburg.
“I can’t hear those numbers and think the plan is inequitable,” school board member James Craig said.
The board did not technically vote to close schools other than Gilmore Lane, although they will likely do so at a later date. The state department of education has to approve moving buildings’ status to “transitional,” and that likely won’t happen until the summer.
The need for new schools is too great to delay further, school board members ultimately decided. Chairwoman Diane Porter, who represented west Louisville, said having a condemned floor like at Academy @ Shawnee would not be accepted in any other part of the county.
“My district will not accept this any longer,” Porter said.
School-by-school, here’s how the final facilities proposal will affect the district.
Gilmore Lane Elementary
- Likely the decision with the most concern from parents, Gilmore Lane would close in its current capacity at the end of the school year.
- About half of its students would mostly go to Indian Trail Elementary, with the rest being split amongst other cluster schools.
- Gilmore Lane will then house Liberty High School, an alternative school, beginning in August.
Indian Trail Elementary
- Other than receiving a large influx of students in August, Indian Trail would see minimal immediate change.
- A new elementary school would be built on its campus by 2024, with students moving there upon completion.
Watson Lane Elementary
- Students at Watson Lane will stay there for now but will eventually combine into a new elementary school built on the Wilkerson Elementary campus in the future.
- The Watson Lane building will then be empty.
- Wilkerson students will get a new school in the coming years. Until then, they’ll stay where they are.
- The future new school for Wilkerson students may benefit from a campus-sharing agreement with YMCA, according to JCPS officials.
Wheatley Elementary and Roosevelt-Perry Elementary
- Wheatley and Roosevelt-Perry students will both stay in their schools until a new elementary is built on West Broadway. Students would then combine into a single campus, which may share space with a YMCA.
- Another potential campus-sharing agreement with YMCA has been a bright spot for several parents, according to JCPS officials.
- Like with Watson Lane, it is unclear what would happen to the empty buildings the schools would leave behind.
Academy @ Shawnee
- Shawnee students will get roughly $30 to $40 million in renovations to their school over the coming years. A big part of the renovations: Making the long-shuttered third floor usable again.
Unnamed middle school
- The East End will get a new middle school to help alleviate overcrowding at many of the schools in the area. JCPS is considering a spot off of Shelbyville Road and I-265 for the new school.
- Four new schools (three elementary, one middle)
- One major renovation
- Three schools to eventually close, at least