Kentucky Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis is offering Jefferson County Public Schools a settlement to avoid a state takeover. Lewis is proposing what he calls “enhanced oversight” of the district instead, without taking full management away. The district’s deadline to respond is Wednesday, August 1.
At a back-to-school news briefing on Tuesday, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio didn’t offer a specific timeline on a decision.
“I can’t specifically comment on what’s going to happen between now and tomorrow. I mean, obviously that’s a very quick deadline,” said Pollio. “I haven’t had the opportunity in the past 24 hours to have a lot of conversation with board members. But I know our board members will be having some discussions and conversations in the near future; I can’t say at this time when it will be.”
Pollio also said the district has made progress since he started leading JCPS last year.
“I think we’ve acknowledged and addressed many of our concerns that we have,” said Pollio. “I think we have not hid behind some of the data that we need to improve on. But I think we’ve moved on significantly.”
JCPS is Kentucky’s largest school district with approximately 100,000 students. Lewis recommended a state takeover in April, following a scathing audit of the state’s largest school system. Lewis was hired as interim education commissioner after former commissioner Stephen Pruitt was ousted.
In the audit summary, Lewis wrote “the current state of JCPS is not the fault of any one leader or group. Instead, under the leadership of many and over a long period of time, serious challenges emerged and in many cases were permitted to fester.”
In late May, the Jefferson County school board voted to appeal Lewis’ recommendation for a takeover. The interim education commissioner said in June that a state takeover would be “costly” but that the protection of children is worth it.