While I support any efforts to improve learning in Jefferson County, there are some aspects of the Males of Color Academy that concern me and there are many concerns, questions, and issues I hope can be addressed by JCPS.
REGARDING THE RFP PROCESS
- It seems clear that JCPS was seeking to emulate the Carter G Woodson Academy in Lexington for the Males of Color Academy. Rosz Akins was included in several board meetings to discuss the school, and the proposal for the DuBois Academy from August of 2016 made it clear that the board wished to mimic the program. That being the case, why did JCPS issue an RFP that asked for the following: "The intent is to explore all innovative approaches/designs that have a track record and evidence of success in meeting the needs of males of color including the inclusion of ethnic studies. The design would go through the magnet schools process. This is the first step -- exploration and engagement and then design."
- I reviewed several RFPs from JCPS and each one was scored on a 100 point scale with cost being a varied percentage of the bid. Why was this RFP on a 425 point scale, and why was cost weighted at 140 points, almost 3 times any of the other 11 scores?
- The proposals provided by TNTP and The Eagle Academy are professionally done and formatted, and both indicate experience in building several schools and/or consulting with multiple outside agencies about education. TNTP also provides biographies of multiple experienced consultants that work with them. The SNIKA proposal appears to be the work of one individual, is haphazardly arranged, and full of typos, grammar errors, citation problems, and at least one glaring factual error. SNIKA's experience primarily is focused on a single school. Given all of this, how did SNIKA score a 27.40 out of 30 on the "Experience/qualifications/capacity of the offeror" portion of the scoring process, while Eagle Academy scored a 24.60, and TNTP scored 23.40?
- There are several other areas where TNTP and the Eagle Academy would appear to have a better or equal approach with SNIKA, yet in only one of the 8 groupings of scores does either of the other two have a score better than SNIKA. Why?
- Who scored the proposals, what criteria they used to score each, and how the criteria were arrived at.
- Why would a company submit, and JCPS accept, a proposal to create a new school dedicated to academic excellence and professional behavior that is full of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.
- If the desire was to replicate Carter G Woodson Academy, could it not have been done cheaper via consultation with the school itself via an arrangement with Fayette County Public Schools and a project manager from Jefferson County Public Schools?
- What data do we have that shows student success is driven by Carter G Woodson Academy and not by other factors?
- How will we track data to determine if the Males of Color Academy is improving educational outcomes in Jefferson County? Will we be tracking demographics at a detailed enough level to examine the paths and success of students in the Males Of Color Academy vs those who attend other schools?
- Several "non-negotiables" were mentioned in August of 2016 for this school, including it not having a high concentration of poverty, a commitment for parents to Saturday training, and mandatory Saturdays. Are these still on the table?
- Ms Akins mentioned that students in Carter Woodson who joined after sixth grade had a harder time. What are elementary schools in Lexington doing right that middle schools are not in preparing children to transition to the rigor and rigidness of CGWA? How will we replicate that here?
- Ms Akins indicated that some students left Carter Woodson early to return to, in her words, “the mediocrity”. What are we going to do to ensure that our intent is not to consider the new academy an elite oasis from “mediocrity”, but rather to use this academy to develop programs and support that can be used in ALL schools? If so, what is our plan for doing so?
- Why are only Christian churches included in the Supplemental program. It’s easy for Ms Akins to say that there is no religious component to this program, but having the supplemental programs at churches potentially sends a negative or non-inclusive message to the children and parents who do not attend those churches. Is there any consideration of other religious institutions or non religious community outreach programs?
- How will JCPS ensure that all students are given a shot to get into the academy? How will they help kids who may not have a stable home life, parents, or someone advocating for them apply and succeed at the new academy?
- What is our plan going forward? How will we ensure that we reach more at risk kids, and what other types of programs are in the pipeline for students who may not thrive at a place like the Males of Color Academy?
- What factors will establish if this academy is a success or failure? What measurements will we use and how will we baseline these measurements and compare them to other approaches?