- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A consultant has recommended making changes to the popular magnet programs offered at Jefferson County Public Schools.

The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/1mLVv9m) reports the national consultant says the district should consolidate or phase out nine programs and put more than a dozen others on probation.

Bob Rodosky, who is executive director of data management, planning and program evaluation, says district officials will proceed carefully.

They plan to spend the next six months evaluating the recommendations before deciding what actions to take.

As part of the process, he said the district will get feedback from schools and the public before proposing any action to the school board.

“This review has given us the critical eye we needed,” Rodosky said. “It’s now up to us to find out how we can use the magnets within our ecosystem to best benefit our students and this community.”

Consultant Scott Thomas, who is executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Magnet Schools of America, said in the report that JCPS has “some fantastic magnet programs.”

“By pruning the roses and polishing the jewels,” he said, “the community will have an even greater opportunity for high-quality options.”

He reviewed 59 of the district’s roughly 150 magnet and optional programs and magnet schools.

The recommendations have raised some alarm.

At duPont Manual, students and parents have begun a campaign to keep the school’s High School University magnet, which has about 600 students.

The program offers a traditional college preparatory curriculum with electives, said Greg Kuhn, an assistant principal.

“HSU is the magnet program that guarantees that our student body will remain diversified,” Kuhn said. “The other four magnet programs at Manual would not be possible without HSU students to flesh them out. The school’s orchestra, concert band, choir, academic teams, spirit and social clubs would be barren without these students.”

Manual principal Jerry Mayes told parents in letters that “we are confident that our school board, JCPS and the Louisville community understands not only how important Manual High School is to Louisville, but also how vital how HSU is to Manual High School.”

Rodosky said the consultant thought the program was similar to an early college program at Western, but it is not and there is “no data” to support the recommendation.

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