LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – School-based decision making councils throughout Jefferson County Public Schools have been passing resolutions either supporting the district’s current leadership or opposing a state takeover at Kentucky’s largest school district.

That’s among options at interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’ disposal as the Kentucky Department of Education wraps up its long-awaited management audit of JCPS. Lewis has said he plans to make his recommendation by the end of the month, which comes Monday.

Atherton High School’s SBDM council passed a resolution supporting JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio and the Jefferson County Board of Education on Friday. Under state management, a state-appointed manager would have authorities currently held by Pollio and the board over operations at JCPS.

Cynthia Sullivan, a parent representative on Atherton’s SBDM board, proposed the resolution and said she saw it as an opportunity to protect local control of JCPS. Her concern extends to the future of SBDM councils, which were enacted as part of education reforms enacted in 1990, if the state decides to take control of JCPS.

“I felt like we couldn’t leave those things up to chance because they were hard-won privileges and rights,” Sullivan said when asked about her decision to draft the resolution.

“I would not like to see them taken away by someone that has limited understanding of the different pockets of our community and the needs of the different pockets of our community.”

At least 10 SBDM councils at JCPS schools have passed resolutions this week, most specifically mentioning support for current district leadership or opposition to a state takeover in their posted agendas.

The rush to pass such resolutions comes after former Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt suddenly resigned during a special state education board meeting a day after Gov. Matt Bevin appointed six new members.

Jefferson County school board members have said Pruitt planned to recommend state assistance for JCPS once the audit is complete, leading many to worry that his departure may open the door to more direct intervention from KDE.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, principals throughout the district voiced their support for Pollio and the school board as did teachers represented by the Jefferson County Teachers Association. The 15th District Parent Teacher Association also held a rally outside JCPS headquarters on Thursday in support of JCPS leaders.

Sarah McIntosh, a parent representative on Hite Elementary’s SBDM council and a former JCPS teacher of 16 years, has spoken with other parents about the need for school councils to pass resolutions.

She said actions by JCPS to address some issues already brought to its attention by KDE should be taken into account by Lewis as he reaches his conclusion.

“We are moving in a completely different direction from when the audit was initiated, so I don’t feel that (a takeover) is warranted at this time,” McIntosh told WDRB News. “It’s not justifiable. Some of the initial findings of the audit have already been corrected or are in the process of.”

“A state takeover seems excessive,” she said. “It seems extreme.”

Lewis wrapped up a two-day visit of JCPS on Thursday, and Pollio said he enjoyed meeting with the interim education commissioner and his team.

Pollio said Thursday that he does not have any indication what Lewis will recommend for JCPS.

“It was a great opportunity for my staff to talk about what we’ve done in 10 months – our new focus, our new mission, the accomplishments we’ve made,” Pollio told WDRB News. “I feel that they were impressed with what they’ve seen and really how unified our team is together around a mission, a vision and a focus.”

But what impact those meetings – and the support JCPS leaders have elicited this week – will have on the audit recommendation remains to be seen.

“I can say this – whatever happens, we are going to have significant collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Education,” Pollio said. “I’m confident in that. I welcome collaboration with them, and I hope that we continue as we are right now as a part of that.”

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

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