Future of Early Learning Village to be decided

Several rumors going around

By Katheran Wasson Published:

The future of the Early Learning Village could be decided in the next few months, Franklin County Public Schools Superintendent Chrissy Jones said Monday.

The school, which serves kids in preschool through first grade on the east side of town, is overflowing at more than 700 students. Some kids are using a makeshift classroom in a common area this year, Jones said.

She told The State Journal that she’s in the process of forming a committee to discuss the issue. She hopes to have a group in place by November with a recommendation by February.

“We’ve got to make a decision on how best to meet the needs of those kids,” she told members of the Board of Education Monday.

Jones met with ELV staff earlier this month to squelch rumors that the school is closing, changing drastically or that teachers are being pink slipped. Those rumors are false, she said, because no decisions have been made yet.

Retired educator Linda Nickel took the helm as interim principal at ELV on Oct. 1, replacing Donnie Owens, who served as principal since the school opened in 2007.

Jones said Owens’ departure might have prompted some of the worry.

“A lot of people have their heart in (ELV), and we need to have a collaborative group look at it,” she said.

Board vice chairwoman Jennifer Grisham-Brown said she would like to see the committee take a broader look at early childhood education in Franklin County, including the west side of town, which does not have a village model.

Grisham-Brown, a researcher and professor of early childhood education at the University of Kentucky, said that would become particularly important in the next few years as the state begins mandatory kindergarten readiness testing statewide.

Preliminary data reported to the Kentucky Board of Education last week showed that only one in four children in the state are considered prepared for kindergarten, the Associated Press reported.

Officials pointed to kindergarten readiness as key to determining a student’s future, saying that children must be reading at grade level by third grade to improve their odds of graduating from high school.

Planning for ELV could be part of a larger planning effort at FCPS.

Board members met Monday at Elkhorn Elementary School for their annual retreat and a training session.

They discussed Jones’ goals for the school year: a focus on technology and other 21st century skills, a better understanding of the budgeting process, and adoption of a common mission, vision and goals for the school district.

Board members also discussed the possibility of forming a strategic planning committee for the school district.

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