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Fayette parents air frustrations with pause on Rise STEM Academy's growth

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With the expected expansion of Fayette County’s Rise STEM Academy now on hold and its director resigning, parents of students in the girls’ magnet school voiced their disappointment and frustration at a school board meeting Monday night.

The original vision for the RIise STEM Academy for girls was one that would start with kindergarten through second grade in 2020, and add grades until services were offered for students all the way through the end of middle school. But now, with the academy active from K-5, the district has decided to press pause on the anticipated addition of a sixth grade level.

Several parents spoke at a packed school board meeting, demanding further information on the decision and lamenting the loss of director Jennifer Jacobs who announced her resignation via email. A number accused the school board of not throwing enough support behind the program and sending the message that the students of the academy "don't matter."

Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins has said the existing K-5 programs at the RISE Academy need to be strengthened before the board presses forward with more grade levels. At a previous meeting, Liggins commented…

"Or families have every right to be upset. I know it is extremely disappointing to many of our families, as it is to me and my staff," he said. "Ultimately I want this program to survive."

For that to happen, Liggins has said the academy can’t go on being a program that is not fulfilling its full potential.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.