LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Parents are putting their stamp of approval on the idea for a school for primarily African American sixth grade girls in Jefferson County after the Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the plan for Fall 2020.
The school would focus on STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, and include African culture in studies.
It's estimated to cost a little more than $2.5 million for the first year, in the school year 2020-2021.
It's unclear just yet as what criteria there will be for admission, aside from the requirements applicants identify as female and are entering sixth grade; all races will be able to apply, which is why JCPS' Chief Equity Officer says the school will in no way reinforce segregation.
The STEAM school, which is yet to be given an official name, is modeled after the school for boys, the W.E.B. DuBois Academy. Staff claim it's been very successful in improving academic performance in students, which are mostly minority students.
"Belonging, understanding, sense of pride, the curriculum in and of itself which kind of zeroes-in and reflects on who they are, are some successes," says Chief Equity Officer John Marshall, "I don't know if it's as easily measurable, but I think belonging impacts achievement, and achievement impacts future outcomes."
Parents like Corinne Rice praise the idea of the school for girls. Her seventh-grade son attends W.E.B. DuBois Academy since it expanded in its second year to teach the seventh graders. Rice says it's also important to have African American teachers.
"It's always important to have somebody that looks like you that you see that is successful in other areas besides entertainment or sports," Rice says.
She adds that her daughter, who is now a senior in high school, would have enjoyed the opportunity to attend such a school as a sixth-grader. Rice would have herself, too.
"I grew up in the JCPS school system and we didn't have that. I was even told by one teacher in high school that I wouldn't amount to anything," says Rice.
The next step in starting the school is to hire a principal and find a location for it.