JCPS Board pushes back decision date for new lottery application system


Alex Coburn

Manual parents and students attended the work session wearing red in support of Manual. Photo by Emma Percival.

The JCPS Board of Education decided to delay the decision on the magnet lottery system at a packed work session and board meeting on Monday, May 11. Previously set to be decided in June, the board suspended the vote until a later date due to the incomplete nature of the new system plan.

The plan, which Dr. Robert Rodosky, JCPS Chief of Data Management, Planning, and Program Evaluation, presented during the 5 p.m. work session, proposed changes to the 50+ magnet programs in JCPS to centralize the application process and move to a lottery-based system based on recommendations from MSA findings. It will be revisited after Dr. Rodosky re-works it and gathers input from community members.

“We will not bring the plan back for approval in June,” said JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. “The original review recommendation was having a steering committee. What happened was staff started working without that step. We’re going to back up and move forward.”

Among the board members opposed to the current plan were Stephanie Horne, David Jones Jr. and Diane Porter. All three believed that the plan needed more work and was not ready to be presented, which was also the consensus of most of the Manual parents and students who attended the meetings. Dr. Rodosky also admitted that this plan was tested only with magnet school principals and not with parents, students, teachers or other community members.

Horne criticized Dr. Rodosky’s plan for prioritizing the logistics of placing students in schools over the quality of education for the students.

“I’m offended that this has become about student assignment,” Horne said. “It’s about student achievement.”

“This is not acceptable as a work product,” Jones said.

Manual parents and students also weighed in on the plan. Shannon Evans, mother of Olivia Evans (9, J&C), spoke about the ways that Manual was succeeding, saying that the competitive nature of the application process was beneficial to students in the long run.

“From the moment students enter the real world, it is a competition,” Evans said. “Life is not lottery-based.”

Alex Krentsel (12, MST & YPAS) voiced his opinions on how the proposed application change would set back career-oriented magnets like MST.

“This year the MST freshman are a little weaker,” Krentsel said. “Because of that we’re having to have more lower level math classes with smaller numbers to accommodate those students.”

The board said that the main issue with the proposal was that it was underdeveloped and did not feature enough community input. Principal Jerry Mayes and board member Horne said student and parent involvement is crucial in developing or changing the current plan.

“I think this is kind of a wait-and-see thing,” Principal Mayes said. “It was encouraging to see people support the program. That was really nice. Our parents and students are wonderful.”

Horne believes that if people want the school district to make changes, they have to be willing to take action.

“We received really articulate e-mails before today’s meeting. I got many from parents, students, teachers, and even administrators about this issue,” Horne said. “Seeing the vibrant, articulate argument really does make a difference. You can talk, but it’s when you show up that matters, and that’s what Manual did.”

JCPS Board Meeting May 11, 2015 from duPont Manual on Vimeo.

Dr. Rodosky presented his powerpoint publicly to the board and attendees. Photo by Emma Percival.
Several Manual faculty members attended the work session, including Mr. Darryl Farmer. Photo by Emma Percival.