This post has been updated.
Jefferson County Public Schools officials have settled on nine budget priorities for the 2019-2020 school year, according to school board documents.
District officials synthesized a shortlist of priorities after multiple school board discussions over the tentative budget. JCPS board members threw out nearly every aspect of the district, from facilities to mental health services, as areas they’d like to see get a boost from the district’s $1.7 billion budget.
Board members are expected to hear from district officials about the priorities during their April 16 board meeting. The shortlist, available on the school board agenda, is slated to be revisited again the following week in a board work session. The full tentative budget is due for a vote in mid-May.
The nine priorities are:
- Technology, especially to bolster the JCPS Backpack of Success Skills program
- Implementing the new racial equity plan, running the gamut from implicit bias training to equity institutes
- New ways to provide engaging instruction for all students
- Social and emotional supports for students, including more mental health practitioners
- Accelerated Improvement Schools — some of the district’s lowest performing schools, plus efforts to retain teachers in those schools
- “A commitment to redesign and compliance” in the realm of special education. (JCPS was recently found to still be out-of-compliance with federal special education law.)
- The Backpack League, the district’s new summer learning initiative
- Modernizing facilities
- A redesign of alternative schools, which is also expected to be discussed as a separate agenda item
One thing seemingly missing from the list? School security, including more officers or other efforts to harden schools.
After a school shooting in Western Kentucky left two students dead in 2018, legislators focused on improving school safety. Senate Bill 1, bipartisan legislation aimed at hardening schools and softening students, was signed into law last month.
SB 1 did not come with funds for districts to boost school security, however. It is expected to be revisited in the 2020 General Assembly, which is a budget year.
Without state funds, some of the mandates fall on districts to implement if funds allow. JCPS has made one key aspect of the bill to soften students — adding mental health practitioners — a budget priority. Other parts of the bill, or district-specific efforts to bring security more in-house, are not mentioned in the standing list.