JCPS hires Magnet Schools of America to review its magnet programs


Scott Thomas conducted the public forum on the magnet school review in JCPS.

Farren Vaughan

Scott Thomas conducted the public forum on the magnet school review in JCPS.
Scott Thomas conducted the public forum on the magnet school review in JCPS.

JCPS hired Magnet Schools of America (MSA) to conduct a review of the 59 magnet programs in the county. MSA focuses on three main questions: Are the schools diverse? Are they promoting achievement? Are they magnetic? Why or why not? The company then takes the information, presents it to the superintendent and the school board, and leaves any further decision-making up to the district.

Members of the MSA led six informational meetings on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Central and Male to host a forum where anyone could come and learn more about the review of JCPS’ magnets.

“We look for patterns and trends. Are there new ideas or information we should talk about? Can we correlate the information we have learned?” Scott Thomas, executive director of MSA, said.  “We take all the information and formulate a report for the district.”

Thomas started the meeting with a poll for the audience members. Questions included Are you satisfied with the application process to magnets? Should the application process be centralized? Should schools operate with a lottery system for admittance? The results of each question were projected on a screen to the attendees.

The survey was followed with nearly an hour of “open-ended questions,” aimed at discovering the opinions and ideas of the general public. This portion included questions such as What sort of magnets would you like to be created? Are JCPS schools perceived as equal? What would the perfect magnet look like?

Comments from the audience concerned equitable funding and distribution of resources, involvement in the magnet from professionals in the community, and diversity found in the 59 JCPS magnet programs.

Jill Lauroesch is a parent of a seventh grader at Meyzeek Middle and Manual student Dianna Lauroesch (10, MST/YPAS). She attended the meeting in hopes of convincing MSA that the magnets are working.

“My daughter was in a magnet school K-2 in Chicago, and people would complain, saying that it should be a neighborhood school. I always felt that we had to defend ourselves,” Lauroesch said. “We’re invested in these schools, and in general the magnets are good. The magnets make Manual feel like it’s a smaller school, so there’s more of a connection.”

After all the magnet reviews are complete, the MSA members will present their report to the school board on Monday, March 24 at the VanHoose Education Center.