KY Auditor launches probe of JCPS - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KY Auditor launches probe of JCPS

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Is the Jefferson County School District spending one-billion of your tax dollars wisely? That's the question the Kentucky State Auditor says he'll answer in a wide-ranging probe of JCPS finances.

The audit comes at the request of the school district. And it will be the largest investigation ever conducted by the state auditor's office.

"I come not to undermine the confidence of our community in public education, but to strengthen it," said Auditor Adam Edelen during a news conference announcing the investigation.

JCPS spends more than a billion dollars to educate 100,000 students. The superintendent says she wants to make sure every dollar spent is benefiting those students.

"We need to insure that every dollar we spend can be linked to how it actually relates to increased student achievement," said JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens.

The school district did request the audit. But Edelen would not say whether an investigation was already in the works.

"As the taxpayer watchdog, I jealously guard my right to pursue the public tax dollar whereever it goes. But that was a bridge we did not have to cross because this school district did precisely the right thing," he said.

Neither would Edelen say whether the audit is in response to specific concerns.

Several of his probes have already resulted in indictments, most recently against former Agriculture Secretary Richie Farmer.

"Not every audit's purpose is to produce indictments, like we've done recently. This is an investigation that's focused on making sure that this structure runs as efficiently as it can," said Edelen.

But Edelen says the audit will be top-to-bottom, and include input from teachers and the public.

"And if we uncover things that make us uncomfortable, we're going to be clear-eyed about that," he said.

The president of the Jefferson Co. Teachers Association, Brent McKim, says he supports the investigation.

"Our members are very supportive of looking at how we can be more efficient, how we can cut central office costs, so we can have more available for classrooms," he said.

And Hargens, who has already streamlined her staff, says she's not concerned about what the audit may uncover.

"Honesty and transparency is absolutely what we're all committed to. Absolutely no anxiety about it," said Hargens.

Edelen says the audit will begin immediately. He says how long it might last will depend on where the facts take him.

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