JCPS to dip into reserve fund to pay for student programs - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS to dip into reserve fund to pay for student programs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens says the district will now have to spend money from its reserve fund to pay for some student programs this year.

The district is finding ways to live within its means, after a proposed tax increase was cut by more than half.

Hargens wanted $17-million in new taxes. The school board gave her $8-million. Now, Hargens says she's dipping into savings.

"We're in a recession, coming out of a recession. We certainly understand the financial situation," said Hargens.

Supt. Donna Hargens says she understands why the school board adopted a lower tax increase than she requested. But she also understands what it takes to educate 100-thousand students.

And that means, this year, the school district will take $5-million out of its $70-million reserve fund for programs to help at-risk students.

"We're going to have to prioritize, obviously, and make sure we're doing things that impact student achievement the most," Hargens said.

She says the district is already tightening its belt, saving more than $6-million in administrative costs over the past two years.

"But, again, as we continue to do that, we're going to be able to find less ways to reduce spending," she said.

Critics says one place that JCPS can find savings is in the near $70-million transportation budget. Hargens explains that's exactly what the district is doing.

JCPS says it has reduced transportation costs by more than a million dollars over the past year. And changes in the student assignment plan taking effect this year, should cut future costs even more.

"That has an opportunity to reduce ride times and, in the future, take buses off of the road," she said.

As Hargens begins her third year in charge, the big question is when will the money JCPS does spend translate into improved student achievement?

She says the both structure and plan are now in place. This year is about getting it done.

"That's all we're going to worry about is executing the plan, which will do what you said, result in increased gains in student achievement," said Hargens.

State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday has referred to the failing schools in JCPS as "academic genocide."

But, he tells WDRB, he's seeing improvement. And the chances of the state taking over any of those schools are now very low.

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