JCPS school board chairman David Jones Jr. loses bid for re-election
The chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Education lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday night and another seat will also be occupied by someone new in January.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Education lost his bid for re-election on Tuesday night.
David Jones Jr., who has served on the school board since 2012 and has served as chairman since 2015, lost his seat to Chris Kolb in District 2, which includes parts of Newburg, Germantown, St. Matthews, Crescent Hill and some of the Highlands.
Kolb, 41, is a professor at Spalding University who ran on a platform of changing the district's leadership, increasing academic achievement and improving school engagement among children and families.
He won the election with 44 percent of the vote, while Jones received 39 percent and a third challenger, James Fletcher, captured 16 percent of the vote.
"A large segment of our community has lost confidence in our school system and that is what the biggest challenge and opportunity will be," Kolb said in an interview with WDRB on Tuesday night. "One of the most gratifying things, on top of things getting better for our students, teachers and JCPS families, is that this campaign shows you can go against big corporate money and come out on top."
Jones, 58, is chairman and managing partner of Chrysalis Ventures. Last month, he announced a medical leave of absence from the board until January.
In a statement sent to the media by a public relations group on Tuesday night, Jones congratulated Kolb.
"It is an important job and I wish him the best," Jones said. "As education is my passion, I will continue to work on behalf of JCPS’ improvement through philanthropy and other channels."
Meanwhile, Chris Brady, also on the board since 2012, was re-elected to his seat in District 7, which includes most of southeastern Jefferson County and Jeffersontown. In addition, Benjamin Gies won the District 4 seat in southwestern Jefferson County being vacated by Chuck Haddaway, who decided not to run again.
"My goal is to continue to put our students first, we also need to make sure we properly fund our strategic plan," Brady told WDRB News on Tuesday night. "We also need to effectively fund our facilities and improve our infrastructure."
The future of Superintendent Donna Hargens' tenure in Louisville may be in jeopardy, as both Kolb and Gies have said they think it's time for a new leader and Hargens' support among remaining board members has dwindled over the past year.
"The dynamic on the board has changed," admitted Brady, who is among board members who have been critical of Hargens. "Once the new board takes over in January, we shall see what happens. We will have to work together and see what changes may be on the horizon."
Gies, 25, who faced Keisha Allen in the race, is a JCPS graduate who is now a history teacher in Oldham County Schools.
"I am beyond honored to be called to serve District 4 on the JCPS school board," Gies told WDRB News on Tuesday night. "I am ready to be the teacher's voice for south Louisville."
Jones and Brady were both elected to the school board in 2011 and started their terms in 2012.
Although the District 7 race featured four candidates (retired educator James Sexton and S. Scott Majors were the other two on the ballot), the main battle was between Brady and Hollenbach.
Brady, 46, was backed by the JCPS teachers union and its political action committee, which spent at least $291,005 to help him get re-elected.
Hollenbach was backed by a group of wealthy Louisville business people called the Bluegrass Fund, which had spent at least $272,187 – including TV ads during the World Series – to promote him.
Jefferson County is broken into seven school board districts and only one member is elected from each of those districts. Only those who registered to vote in districts 2, 4 and 7 were able to vote in this year's election, and voters could only vote for the seat in the district in which they live.
The seven-member school board oversees an annual budget of more than $1.4 billion and sets policy for the district's 100,000 students and 18,000 employees.
Under state law, board members may not act independently on official matters, they may act only as a group on board-related decisions.
The four other members of the school board, Diane Porter, Lisa Willner, Linda Duncan and Stephanie Horne, will be up for re-election in 2018.
School board members do not have a salary; they earn $75 per meeting they attend, not to exceed $3,000 annually.
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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