Jefferson County Board of Education moves forward with plan to invest in students

The plan includes improvements to facilities, leadership development, and more. 

The Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE) took a significant step towards investing in Kentucky’s largest school system.  Board members say the action taken at Thursday’s special meeting allows for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to create educational equity for all students, build new facilities and further support teachers.

“I believe the kids in our community are just as deserving of support as kids in other parts of Kentucky,” said board vice chair Chris Kolb.  “I intend to vote in favor of this and do everything I can to make sure it becomes a reality.”

The latest move by the board includes the approval of a plan that will generate more than $50 million a year for the district.   The money would replace the $52.5 million in state funding that was reallocated since 2015 to other districts as a part of Kentucky’s funding formula for schools.

“It is a vote in support of our students and their future potential,” said board member Corrie Shull. “Without investing in their potential today we lose opportunity to make the strongest possible impact on students over the next several years.”

JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio presented his vision for the district and how the resources could be used.  Right now the district has more than a billion dollars in unmet facility needs.  The additional funds will also give JCPS the capacity to renovate and build new state-of-the-art facilities that board members say will help enhance instruction. 

The funds could also help create a smooth transition to proposed changes in the student assignment plan.  A part of the proposed changes include giving students in West Louisville an option to attend school close to home or travel outside their community.  In order to do this, it would require the construction of two new middle schools ($64 million) and a new high school ($74 million) in West Louisville.

It’s been 50 years since the last high school was built in JCPS (Ballard High School).  Fayette Public Schools, which is the second largest district in Kentucky, has built 5 new schools and renovated 21 schools in the last 12 years. 

The additional revenue would also give JCPS the opportunity to:

  • renovate four new magnet schools (est. $68 million);
  • double the amount of school renovations per year ($50 million);
  • Increase annual facility improvements ($12 million);
  • renovate high school athletic facilities ($25 million);
  • extend instructional time;
  • and leadership development.

“It would be negligent of this board to vote against this tonight.  It would be negligent of this board to allow facilities to continue to crumble as they have.  It would be negligent of this board to provide the resources they need,” said board member James Craig. “I am very happy to vote yes.  I am passionate about it.”

Currently, JCPS has a lower property tax rate than many surrounding counties and the district had not explored any other options for additional revenue in the past.  JCBE members authorized a property tax increase of 7 cents bringing the total tax rate to 80.6 cents for every $100 of assessed property value.  For a homeowner, that equals a $70 increase on taxes for a home assessed at $100,000.