Region 8 Parents & Teachers Attracted to JPS Magnet Plan

October 11, 2006 - Posted at 4:39 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR -- With news of the Jonesboro Public School Board passing the magnet school plan Tuesday night, many parents, students and teachers are left with questions Wednesday wondering what changes are in store.

School administrators spent Wednesday visiting another magnet school in Texarkana but assure K8 news the timeline for conversion to the new program is right on track.

Its news that has the whole district buzzing....JPS plans to turn its four elementary schools and sixth grade center into magnet schools by the next academic year.

"I think that it will just enhance our entire district as far as bringing new students in, attracting them and it's going to give our kids a chance to learn in a different way," said parent Anna Smith.

The magnet school plan will affect around 2200 students, grades first through sixth in the Jonesboro Public School system.

Parents will have their first opportunity to ask questions during the parent teacher conferences on October 24th and October 26th.  During the conferences, parents will be given additional information and surveyed on theme selections. The district will use that input to make selections on themes, buildings, principals and teacher assignments.

"In two instances, one being a parent, I was thinking this is going to be great.  It's going to be so exciting!  I think the children will have a great time, but as a teacher, I'm still thinking it's going to be great and exciting, but I'm going wow! This is going to be a lot of work for us for preparing for next year!" said Hillcrest Elementary Second Grade Teacher Keena Crenshaw.

Under the plan, area elementary schools would take on a specialty theme, such as math and science or performing arts, but still offer the basic curriculum, too.

"It's going to take some adjusting time and I know that we are not going to just have it perfect the first year.  It's going to take a lot of work on our administrators and our teachers and the buildings.  But I think once we get going, the kids are just going to love it," said Smith.

A second parent-teacher conference in March will allow parents and students to select a theme magnet school and apply for enrollment there.  If the number of students exceed the capacity for a specific building, the district plans on contracting a third party company to conduct a lottery system to decide student placement....most likely to be determined by a computer program.