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Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman could soon be headed to the Pacific Northwest.
According to reports from Eugene, Oregon, Berman is a finalist for a superintendent’s job in the city.
The JCPS board decided last year not to renew Berman’s contract, which expires this summer. Berman and two other finalists are due in Eugene for a meeting March 8th. Berman’s competitors for the job come from school districts in Montana and Iowa.
by Graham Shelby
Nearly 300 Kentucky schools have earned special recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama and the US Department of Agriculture for efforts to fight childhood obesity.
Mrs. Obama’s Let’s Move! program just completed its first year and in that time more schools from Kentucky than other state have met the requirements of the U.S. Healthier Schools Challenge by making improvements in the nutritional value of school meals and the quality of physical and health education. Those schools are eligible for financial rewards of up to $2000.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says Kentuckians should be commended for the achievement, but childhood obesity is too big and too complicated to be solved by a federal program.
“We need parents to be saying this is a priority for us. We need school boards and we need local committees. Everyone needs to be a part of this game. It’s not going to be solved in Washington. It’s got to be all hands on deck,” she says.
Seventy-seven Louisville elementary schools are among those in Kentucky that received special recognition for following the U.S. Healthier Schools Challenge.
Despite that, Kentucky has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the nation. According to one study, 37 percent of Kentucky’s children are overweight or obese.
The bill that would dismantle Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan has passed the state Senate. But Superintendent Sheldon Berman doesn’t think it will clear the House.
Senator Dan Seum‘s (R-Louisville) neighborhood schools bill–which would end Jefferson County Public Schools’ student assignment plan–has cleared the Senate Education Committee and could be up for a vote by the full Senate Friday.
The Jefferson County Board of Education has voted 5-2 to not renew superintendent Sheldon Berman‘s contract.
Board members Linda Duncan and Steve Imhoff were the two votes in favor.
WFPL will have more on this story as it develops.
Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner has a new television ad that hits Democrat candidate Greg Fischer for following Heiner on calls to change the student assignment plan.
Heiner was the first candidate to discuss the JCPS student assignment plan on television*. He ran an ad that called for an end to the plan, which Heiner later said has not improved education (though he still supports diversity goals in the schools). Fischer criticized the spot, but, as Heiner points out in his latest ad, Fischer soon after said the assignment plan should be fixed. Fischer again says the plan should be fixed in his latest TV ad.
The mayor has no direct authority over JCPS, but both candidates say they will try to lead the conversation about changing the assignment plan. They differ on how they would lead the conversation and in how detailed they’ve been about their plans.
Heiner’s campaign has frequently accused Fischer of co-opting Heiner’s ideas.
*Although, if my research is correct, independent Jackie Green was the first candidate in the general election to call for an end to the assignment plan.
IMC President Reverend Frank M. Smith Jr. says Heiner’s plan would re-segregate the schools. He adds that the assignment plan should stay in place, and any problems with it should be addressed by the school board.
“We support our school board in moving forward,” he says. “A lot of tax dollars have already been expended behind the plan and implementation of the plan and we just think some simple tweaking can get the situation improved.”
Here is the full audio of the IMC press conference (mp3), featuring questions from Wave 3’s Jon Chrisos and LEO’s Phillip Bailey.
WLKY reported on the spot when it debuted earlier this week. Here are clips from that story:
On Wednesday, Heiner’s Democratic opponent, Greg Fischer, and JCPS Superintendent Sheldon Berman sharply criticized the ad.
Heiner said he’s already received an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the campaign.
In response, Berman said, “We’re disappointed that the campaign has chosen to politicize our public school children. …The ad distorts and misrepresents the issues facing the school district.”
That comment was echoed by Fischer.
“One, he’s using our kids as pawns six weeks before an election, and two, the result of his plan is the segregation of our schools here in the community,” Fischer said.
Fischer said that, as mayor, he’d create public-private partnerships to move the school system forward. That proposal is similar to one championed by Heiner.
Here is the response from Heiner’s campaign to the IMC’s announcement:
Hal Heiner rejects the idea that we cannot have a discussion on education in this community. This community has gone too long without taking a fresh look at education, and it is time to ask ourselves if this is acceptable. Is it acceptable to have a dropout rate that is double the state average? Is it acceptable to have 6 failing schools and to have our children riding buses for 3 hours a day? Something has to change, and Hal Heiner is unapologetic for standing up for parents and children across this community.
Many stories on the topic also point out that the mayor has no power over the schools. Both Heiner and Fischer say they will work closely with the school board and superintendent to influence education.
And another note, independent candidate Jackie Green also favors ending the assignment plan. But, he has proposed spreading affordable housing across the city to make neighborhoods (and therefore neighborhood schools) more diverse.
Republican mayoral candidate Hal Heiner‘s latest TV ad says “It’s time to end the failed student assignment plan.” In the spot (watch here), Heiner makes suggestions for improving Jefferson County Public Schools, such as offering teachers incentives to work in poor-performing schools. In a debate earlier this month, Heiner said he wanted the mayor to be “directly involved in improving education.”
At the same debate, Democratic candidate Greg Fischer said he wants to involve parents more in schools, but didn’t say he wants to end the assignment plan.
Independent Jackie Green favors ending the assignment plan, but said he would make neighborhoods diverse by spreading public housing across the city.
As Rick Howlett reported on WFPL today, “Louisville attorney Ted Gordon was back in court Monday, filing a motion that asks a judge to reopen Gordon’s suit challenging Jefferson County Public Schools student assignment plan.”
Superintendent Sheldon Berman and Mayor Jerry Abramson made a joint appearance today (along with Congressman John Yarmuth) and afterward, they talked about the suit and the neighborhood schools legislation.
Berman and Gordon are quoted in the WFPL story. Here is what the mayor had to say: