Community schools planned at 2 JCPS 'Choice Zone' sites. Here's what that means outside class

Two Jefferson County Public Schools are set to receive additional money and support to offer students and people living around the schools more services, based on the specific desires of those families.

The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a Kentucky nonprofit focusing on early education, was awarded more than $47 million in federal grant money to implement the community school model in 40 schools across the state.

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Two schools within JCPS' "Choice Zone" are set to be among the first served, with the effort meant to help those "who need additional supports due to out-of-school challenges," said Brigitte Blom, president and CEO of the Prichard Committee.

The committee chose to prioritize helping schools in the choice zone, which refers to 13 schools in and near Louisville's West End that serve an overwhelming number of students from impoverished backgrounds.

Research shows community schools "have a positive impact on student outcomes, particularly for students that have significant barriers to learning that need to be removed," she said.

Brigitte Blom is president and CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
Brigitte Blom is president and CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.

Community schools have a staff member dedicated to increasing supports that will serve both students and those living in the area. Each community school can offer different programs and services. Many have before- and after-school programs, and some might offer night classes for parents while others run a food pantry.

The two schools that will participate hasn't been decided, but JCPS' school choice zone program director said she is excited to be partnering with the committee through this grant.

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"This grant will allow JCPS to provide comprehensive academic, social, and health programs to serve students, families and community members beyond the school day, improving student outcomes in the process," Jameira Johnson said.

JCPS already has six schools following the community school model, and most of the district's schools offer wraparound services in similar ways that the model suggests. The Prichard Committee plans to build upon those services in ways suggested by the community.

This means the committee will play host to community forums to hear what each of the schools' stakeholders would like to see.

"What research and evidence suggest is that it's really important that the community around the schools are involved in the planning process - that their voice is regarding what services are working for them or what additional services might be most helpful," Blom said.

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The timing of the programs depends on those community conversations, Blom said, adding that families can expect to see changes in the next school year.

Besides the two choice zone schools, the committee's first group of community school will include two each in Owensboro Independent, Daviess County and Rowan County. The committee plans to work with all 40 of this effort's schools in the next five years.

Of the grant, $30 million "will go directly to communities and schools," according a release from the committee.

Contact reporter Krista Johnson at

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: 2 JCPS 'Choice Zone' schools are set to become community schools