JCPS may get $7.8 million to restore cuts, provide music and art - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS may get $7.8 million to restore cuts, provide music and art classes

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local public schools could see more money in next year's budget under a proposal being considered by the Jefferson County Board of Education.

The school board is looking to restore cuts made at some schools last year in per-pupil funding at middle and high schools and for supplemental budgets -- which allow schools to fund things like special education teachers, mental health counselors and assistant principals -- while also providing money for art and music classes in elementary schools throughout the district in the 2018-19 school year.

The proposal, which was discussed at a Dec. 12 work session as part of the board's budget talks, will cost Jefferson County Public Schools $7.8 million more toward its allocations for schools in the district -- $4.3 million to reverse per-pupil and other spending reductions in what are considered "non-priority" schools and $3.5 million to fund elementary art and music classes. The school board approved cuts last year in order to free up money for other priorities under former Superintendent Donna Hargens.

The board is set to vote on the plan at its Jan. 23 meeting, with schools set to get their initial allocation totals on Feb. 5. School-based decision-making councils will use those numbers to draft their budgets for the upcoming school year.

Jefferson County Board of Education member Linda Duncan said she believes the suggested increases align well with the district's Vision 2020 goals, which aim to improve student performance and post-graduation readiness, and that the plan is a combination of priorities of the board and JCPS.

She added that providing art and music programs may help students academically and feel better connected to their schools.

"We will have money available for music and art, but the schools really are the ones that make those decisions, so we wanted to make sure that they knew this money was available for them," Duncan said in a phone interview Wednesday. 

Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio said during the Dec. 12 work session that restoring the cuts will make it easier for schools to provide needed services. John Collopy, JCPS' director of financial planning and management, said providing the funds for music and art programs will give schools flexibility to implement them without worrying about finding additional money in their budgets, according to the district.

Duncan views the $7.8 million as an investment in achieving the board's priorities, and she's not concerned about financing the proposal since she expects the money will replace other spending in the current budget. 

But the amount isn't enough to take care of needs throughout JCPS, she said.

"We're $200 million short of enough money, what we consider enough money, and I think that's even underestimated," Duncan said. "... We have huge needs, and if we can chip away at it and make sure we're putting more money toward certain things, that will help us go in the direction of reaching those goals."

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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