The state’s top education official recommended Jefferson County Public Schools be put under state management, the result of a sweeping 14-month audit. While JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio will remain in charge over daily operations, the elected school board will lose its authority and act in only an advisory role to Pollio and the state’s interim education commissioner, Wayne Lewis.
Reaction from elected officials, school board members and other community members was swift, with many saying a takeover is unnecessary and the plan takes away the community’s voice by neutralizing the elected board.
Reactions from Insider Louisville readers:
I am enthusiastic. Jefferson County has some of the lowest performing schools in the state. Gradual change has been promised for years, but our most vulnerable children are still stuck in failing schools. If things were going well, a takeover would not be needed. Under the current circumstances, though, dramatic changes need to be made immediately. This should be welcomed by all who care about our children. Remember that poor Eastern Kentucky school districts now outperform our average local schools! —Jeff Bailey
The state needs to stay out of our local affairs. I don’t trust anyone in the Bevin administration. —Roger Fultz
I believe this decision was made the moment (Gov. Matt) Bevin took office. He has been laying the path for charter schools from day one. —Amy Lyons
Bevin and his chief charter school lackey, Lewis, whom he paraded around last week as a matter of formality, coupled with Bevin’s new undemocratically elected board of charter school lackeys are trying to usurp the democratically elected school board. I said hell no! We will fight this every step of the way. Bevin is nothing but a Koch-funded toad who is rolling out their playbook again in our state like they have done in 43 other states. They have one big problem this time, we know their playbook and we will not play their game! —Pam Gersh
JCPS has continually failed the children of Jefferson County for years. It’s about time that someone put our children first. —Michael Czerwonka
I think that this is simply part of the Republican Party’s effort to privatize everything possible that offers potential profitability in order to increase the wealth of those who are already wealthy. They do this knowing that it is not in the best interest of our students or our people in general. Those of us who live in Jefferson County wish to control our own school system and certainly do not favor this Republican takeover of the education of our children. Someday, the people in rural Kentucky will wake up and realize what your party has done to them when they find themselves without health care, access to a decent education for their children, adequate nourishment and the list goes on. I just hope that those of us living in Kentucky can survive the Trump/Bevin administrations. —Ann Lyons
How long was the Kentucky (Department) of Education going to allow JCPS to fail, not just some, but all the children in Jefferson County? The Jefferson County Board of Education, Jefferson County (Teachers) Association and all the superintendents in the past 10 to 15 years, less Dr. Pollio, have allowed diversity and liberal ideology to trump education of all children. State testing scores consistently rank JCPS as one of the worst school districts in the state. The only solution is to fire school superintendents. Folks, it ain’t worked. Let an outside entity take a crack at fixing this disaster.—Thomas Hill
I’m a retired JCPS bus driver (2003 to 2016). I agree there are problems that were overlooked and not addressed by the previous superintendent. The short time I was there, my experience was the longer (Donna) Hargens was there, the worst things became for all employees. No support of any kind for staff. It was to the point that everyone that I encountered on a daily basis was being negatively affected by her. Since her departure, there has been such a positive state of mind with Pollio taking the reins. Truly I believe this situation we have now is strictly about the money, Bevin wants to control the money. He doesn’t care about anything else but his agenda! I’ll be glad when he’s out of office. —Glendora Watzek
The audit report reveals that the JCPS system needs major changes and improvements. JCPS must accept the state takeover decision and not appeal. Dr. Pollio is making good progress as he starts to correct the deficiencies found during the audit. However, as noted in the report, no one person alone can address the large number of problems which exist and which will take years to correct. It is obvious that oversight is needed. This is not a political matter. It is a matter of providing a safe environment for children to learn. JCPS must accept the report recommendations of a state takeover and get to work to fix its broken system. —Joyce Douglas
I am a retired teacher from JCPS, and I agree that there are problems within this enormous district. I was so pleased when Dr. Pollio was named superintendent, for his lengthy experience within the system surely gave him insight into its challenges. I firmly believe that Dr. Pollio is eager to work with the State Board of Education and the JCPS Board to bring all necessary changes. My concern is that the State Board is now a political arm of Gov. Bevin, and as such will demand changes designed to implement Gov. Bevin’s extreme political views. Gov. Bevin’s obvious disdain for teachers, his secretive, closed manner of making and implementing decisions, his arrogant and entitled demands that his extreme views on education be implemented, his obvious dislike of all things Jefferson County, are very worrisome in this setting. Unfortunately, Gov. Bevin shares many of the same views as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Koch brothers. Their attempts to privatize education are no secret, and charter schools are their means of doing so. All in all, I am very worried about Gov. Bevin’s involvement in something he knows very little about. —Jacqueline Harrison