JCPS school board approves $1.4 billion working budget for 2016- - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS school board approves $1.4 billion working budget for 2016-17

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education approved a $1.4 billion working budget for the 2016-17 year on Tuesday -- a spending plan district officials say maintains investments in student instruction and support.

Superintendent Donna Hargens said the district has "created an environment where everything appropriately is questioned as to whether it's (being) spent appropriately."

But her assurances were not enough to gain the approval of board members Stephanie Horne and Lisa Willner, both of whom voted against it.

"I don’t feel I have enough information to support this budget," Willner said. "I don’t feel I have sufficient information on programs that may or may not be helping our kids."

Hargens tried to assure Willner that the district is on a "journey of doing program evaluations" and that "everything will still be scrutinized."

But Willner said she needs "evidence" and that "people’s hunches as to whether something might or might not be working" is not enough.

Horne had similar concerns as Willner, but also added she could support of a budget that includes a change in allocations to the district's middle and high school operational budget funding by $10 to $20 per student. District officials said the change will free up over $600,000 it can use elsewhere.

This is the second year in a row Horne has opposed the budget.

The working budget is the last of three budgets approved by the school board this year. It includes approximately $1.1 billion being funded by the general fund. Overall, nearly $800 million of the general fund -- or approximately 70 percent -- of the district's budget goes directly to schools.

In August, the school board approved lowering the property tax rate for the current fiscal year.

The tax rate will decrease from 71 cents per $100 of assessed value to 70.8 cents, which means the owner of a $100,000 home would continue to pay about $708 in property taxes to JCPS, about two dollars less than last year.

The district had to lower the rate or it would exceed the four percent revenue growth allowed by Kentucky law, which states a taxing district can adjust its rate annually, but the new rate cannot result in its revenue increasing by more than 4 percent. Any increase exceeding 4 percent requires a petition that puts the increase up for a referendum.

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