JCPS Facilities Plan
Equity is Not Just a Buzzword
Equity in education in JCPS isn’t a buzzword for communities of color. It is their hope, it is their motivator for all the work they do for their children. It has been their life’s work, particularly because their children are the ones who have been bused out of their neighborhoods across town to increase the black to white ratio of the east end schools for nearly 60 years, while there has been little attempt to do the same in the west end schools. The racial equity plan and the racial equity analysis protocol adopted in 2018 were supposed to be vigorously used to address this, among other things. It was a promise. It was a commitment. It is the expectation of the communities of color that JCPS abide by their stated commitment to equity...not later, but now.
While there is no doubt that Shawnee must be renovated and there are so many schools that need renovations or new ones built, student assignment and racial equity, in particular, must be a major driving factor in the decisions.
It is our contention that demographics and the JCPS student assignment plan should drive the facilities plan. Building the schools before implementing the student assignment plan would diminish the number of seats in the west end while increasing the number of seats in the east end, resulting in the necessity for more students bussed to east end schools, and creating more segregated schools. Historically, the majority of students bussed have been students of color.
Building for Equity
Overcrowding in several east end schools is one of the driving forces for building a new school near the Gene Snyder. While there is overcrowding in some schools it is not due to the fact that there are not empty seats in classrooms in other areas of the county. Redrawing districts, shifting boundary lines to the west, creating a student assignment plan that is equitable for students of color as well as their white counterparts, replicating popular programs around the county, and including more students of color in advanced programs would all be equitable alternatives to simply “building where there is growth.”
It is easy to point to new school buildings in disparate parts of town to claim progress, but it would be disingenuous. When more students will be bussed farther, parents will have more challenges participating in any meaningful way in their bussed student’s school, more bussed students will be unable to participate in schools activities, and more students will be in schools with higher populations of students living in poverty, there is no progress. Again, the student assignment plan must be adopted and implemented to know what the needs for schools are in the near future and may be for farther in the future.
On March 12, the Jefferson County Board of Education will vote on a facilities plan that will authorize the building of a new school in the East End of Jefferson County, while consolidating schools in the West and the South. This plan will do nothing to increase diversity and equity in JCPS schools, and will increase the burden of desegregation on our West End students who face long bus rides to schools across town. Read more below.
“Building where the growth is” expands inequity. Capacity is being increased in the East End with a new school, while being reduced in the West and South by merging six schools to three, which will result in more students of color bused eastward.
The new Racial Equity Analysis Protocol (REAP) must lead any draft plan toward greater racial equity in JCPS. Using this protocol to evaluate the plan would address inequity and would result in fewer schools with high concentrations of students of color living in poverty. Research indicates improved academic outcomes for students living in poverty when they attend a more diverse school including increased flexibility and creativity.
Use facilities planning to drive equitable outcomes. Use the REAP tool to evaluate the draft facilities and draft student assignment plan as committed to by the JCPS school board. Only if new student assignment approaches (such as changing choice and boundaries) do not result in improved equity system-wide should a facilities plan be considered to drive diversity.
Please add your name to the petition to tell JCPS that facilities and student assignment must support diversity and equity.