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Can JCPS Proposal Bring Equity? Segregated Elementary Schools Raise Questions

Jess Clark, WFPL |

This story is the fourth in a 5-part series on the proposed student assignment plan, and what it could mean for JCPS’s legacy of integration, and the future. A new story will post online each morning this week. 

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio was in a suit and a hard hat this fall touring a $40 million renovation underway at The Academy @ Shawnee in the West End. 

For decades, most students in the majority-Black, low-income West End and downtown areas have been assigned to schools to the east and south in order to maintain racial integration. Under a new student assignment proposal called “Dual Resides,” West End students could continue to take the trip across town, or, for the first time since 1975, they could choose to stay in the West End. The Academy @ Shawnee would become their home high school. 

But the building needed a lot of work. Until recently the entire third floor was condemned and blocked off. It’s been that way since 1981. 

“I believe over the next decade, 10 years from now, Shawnee will be a thriving school, with a thousand students in here,” Pollio said. “Great programming, 100% transition readiness. Kids going to college, and really being a vibrant part of this community.”

They are high hopes for a school that will serve overwhelmingly low-income Black students, a population that JCPS has so far struggled to serve well — even more so in segregated settings like Shawnee will become. 

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