Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Superintendent Marty Pollio called on the Louisville community to support tax increases during his state of the district address Wednesday.
“Money matters, and funding matters for student outcomes,” he said. “There is no doubt about that.”
Pollio said 28 of the district’s school buildings are at the end of their life span. He pointed out that the district’s newest high school, Ballard High School, was built more than 50 year ago, and it’s football stadium was recently condemned.
“In the years to come, I will guarantee this situation will reoccur year after year. And next time it’s not going to be a football stadium. It’s going to be a school,” Pollio said.
Pollio has said the district faces $1 billion in unmet facility needs.
Jefferson County school board members have been considering increasing property taxes to support building, renovations and instructional improvements. One possibility members have considered is a “nickel tax,” which would increase taxes by 5 cents on every $100 of property value. The nickel tax, if passed by the board, could be recalled by voters.
Pollio said Jefferson County trails far behind other school districts, including Fayette County and Oldham County when it comes to their willingness to raise revenues.
“What message is that sending to our kids? That those cities care more about their children than we do?” he asked.
The Jefferson County school board has recently approved millions of dollars in renovations to schools across the district. Staff are also in the process of planning three new elementary schools and one new middle school. They’re paying for most of those costs through bond sales.