LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After launching major district-wide initiatives like the Backpack of Success Skills and a plan to tackle racial inequities last year, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio says the 2019-20 school year will be the time for Kentucky’s largest school district to demonstrate the impact that new programs like those are having.

Pollio, speaking to reporters Monday at a back-to-school event at the 15th District PTA Clothing Assistance Program as it kicked off a clothing drive for the start of school, said he’s “never been more committed or resolute about” the district’s future after launching key strategies aimed at improving student achievement during the past school year, which included a far-reaching settlement with the Kentucky Department of Education that avoided state management of JCPS.

“This is a long, step-by-step process,” said Pollio, who will start his second school year as superintendent when classes begin Aug. 14. “This is not something that happens overnight in one year, but we believe for year two we are setup to do great things.”

While there are no major learning initiatives in the pipeline for the upcoming school year, other pivotal areas of the district’s operations are in varying degrees of flux.

For instance, JCPS and the Jefferson County Board of Education are developing a new security plan after 17 Louisville Metro Police officers were reassigned back to normal patrols from their jobs as school resource officers in the city’s budget.

The board is scheduled to discuss a proposal at its work session Tuesday that would repurpose nine of the district’s in-house security monitors at the start of the school year to cover the losses of LMPD officers before eventually hiring its own security force of more than 40 officers. That plan, if approved, is expected to cost the district about $5 million.

“We want to take every action that we possibly can to make sure our students are safe, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Pollio said.

But some school board members are divided on whether officers in a JCPS security force should be armed.

Pollio, who was principal at Doss High School before he was named interim superintendent in July 2017, declined to say whether he personally supported arming officers. Details of any security plan will be decided by the board.

“Our most important thing, for me, is that we follow Senate Bill 1,” he said, referencing a new school safety law that took effect this year and emerged in the aftermath of a fatal 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School. “And so we’re going to have some feedback from some folks involved in Senate Bill 1 tomorrow at our board meeting.”

While the new law mandates that districts hire enough school resource officers to cover every school as funds and job candidates become available, it’s unclear whether those officers, who are sworn or special law enforcement officers, are required to carry weapons.

Still, some of the in-service trainings required by the state center on the use of firearms.

JCPS will also be without its new transportation director at the start of the school year. The district has hired Donald Robinson, deputy director of codes and regulations for Louisville Metro, to replace Randy Frantz as head of the district’s transportation department after Frantz took a job with the Transit Authority of River City last month.

Robinson, who will make $145,130 in his new role, doesn’t start until Aug. 26, but Pollio says he’s confident that opening day will be smooth for students who ride buses to school.

“The first day of school has always been a big team effort, there’s no doubt,” he said. “In the operations side in transportation, there are hundreds of people who have all been a part of this.”

The district rolled out its bus finder service this weekend so families can look up the locations of their kids’ bus stops, which can be accessed here.

A separate web page with back-to-school information has also been launched by the district and can be found here.

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