The Paducah Independent School District will continue its initial district equity audit on Tuesday evening with the first of five community focus groups.
The first community discussion group will be held at 6 p.m. at the Washington Street Baptist Church. The others will be 6 p.m. Thursday at the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club, 6 p.m. Monday at Paducah Middle School, 6 p.m. August 31 at the Paducah Innovation Hub, and 6 p.m. September 2 at the Paducah Innovation Hub.
Community focus groups are intended for stakeholders in the school district, including students, parents, teachers, classified staff, and the community. Community actors include those who live in the city. District administration will not be present at meetings.
The input of these stakeholders will play an important role in the audit of equity.
The focus groups will be moderated by members of the University of Kentucky’s Education and Civil Rights Initiative.
School district equity manager Shonda Hollowell-Burrus said the focus groups would discuss questions prompted by a survey sent to students and parents at the end of the last school year.
â(Staff at the University of Kentucky Education and Civil Rights Initiative) will put all of their data and findings (from focus groups) to (the school district) in a report,â she said.
âPart of this report will include their recommendations for a strategic plan for all stakeholders: for students, for staff, for parents and the community. “
The Paducah Independent School District Board had the idea for an initiative to oversee and improve racial equity in schools in Paducah in 2019, but the onset of COVID-19 halted the idea in its early stages.
The Board of Trustees began implementing the idea last March, including creating positions for Equity Officer, District Education Specialist, District Education Coach, and Education Specialist. community work transition program.
The district equity audit is part of the Paducah Racial Equity Initiative, a product of the University of Kentucky Education and Civil Rights Initiative, Millennium Learning Concepts, and NAACP.
âThe equity audit will help us look at things in addition to the data,â Burrus said. âWe have a success gap. In addition to the data, we’ll be listening to our stakeholders to see what we’re going to do about it.
âIt’s a learning curve because there is so much data and research, but there’s no point if it doesn’t address your own district and your own students. “
The Paducah Racial Equity Initiative, or REI, consists of three phases with distinct goals. Phase 1 includes forming an action committee, conducting an independent school district equity audit, and developing an action plan.
Members of the Equity Action Committee include Board Members Felix Akojie and Janice Howard, Deputy Superintendent Will Black, Jipaum Askew, Anne Bidwell, Shonda Hollowell-Burrus, Neal Clark, Dana Hernandez, Iris Horice , Varetta Hurt, Chycoby Isbell, Tammy Jones, Jed Lovejoy, Mattie Morris, Mark Rowe, Amina Watkins, Andiamo White and Elisha Winslow. The principal of McNabb Elementary School, Teresa Spann, is an ex-officio member of the committee.
Gregory Vincent and Sarah LaCour of the University of Kentucky College of Education spoke with the Paducah School Board on June 21 via Zoom about a survey sent to students and parents at the end of the last school year. There were 961 student respondents and 313 district staff who had participated in the survey at this point.
Vincent and LaCour are among the University of Kentucky’s equity auditors working with the Paducah School District audit.