Jefferson County Public Schools’ management system is “bloated” and the district isn’t providing teachers with enough classroom resources, according to a a state audit released Wednesday morning.
Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen’s office has completed its year-long report that includes 45 findings and several more recommendations to reform JCPS management and policies, some of which the district has already begun to implement.
Those policies, he said, could shift into classrooms millions of dollars now spent on administration.
The audit, which was requested by the school board in a 5-2 vote and at the recommendation of JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens, was not intended to investigate allegations of waste, fraud, and abuse within JCPS.
And Edelen’s audit found no fraud or abuse.
Still, the audit found that “significant weaknesses or risks” for potential fraud or waste in JCPS.
Here are some of takeaways from the report:
“Board members generally do not appear to have a depth of understanding to actively examine or question the budget effectively without significant reliance on JCPS staff.”
Another finding says the board lacks structure to provide adequate oversight of financial and audit matters. So, the report recommends JCPS establish audit and budget committees and that the board be expanded by two members that should be elected by county-wide vote (right now you can only vote for candidates in your district).
JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens says the school board is “undergoing a complete review of JCPS policies” and that the district is in the “process of hiring a new Director of Internal Audit and Investigations.”
When compared to three peer districts, “JCPS central department employees are paid a significantly higher average salary and have more employees earning over $100,000 annually.”
There are 150 central office employees in JCPS making more than $100,000. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg there are 53; Cobb County has 33; and Austin has 39.
Hargens took steps to reduce the central office staff and froze some positions soon after being hired.
“Over 93 percent of JCPS teachers spent personal funds to supplement resources for classroom instruction primarily due to a lack of financial resources allocated to the classroom.”
This is also happening nationwide. In fact, the audit says among Kentucky teachers surveyed statewide 96 percent said they were spending money on classroom resources. For JCPS, Edelen says the district’s network of six warehouses that store and deliver school and office supplies to Jefferson County teachers and administrators is too slow and inefficient.
“One teacher described it as a glacial pace,” says Edelen. “Another teacher said if they needed a bulb for their projected that they ordered at the beginning of the year, they’d be lucky to get it in March.”
Hargens says that instructional costs and staff supports have increased since 2010-2011, which are the years Edelen used for some baseline data.
We’ll have more updates on the audit Wednesday.
To read the full report, go here.