Education

The Jefferson County Board of Education will cast its final vote on Monday evening on the school district’s 2014-2015 budget.

The proposed working budget for the 2014-2015 school year is just more than $1.4 billion, according to district data.

District officials have been working to finalize the budget since the beginning of the calendar year.

“I believe the budget reflects our current emphasis, which is currently on continuing to reduce gaps in achievement,” Board member Debbie Wesslund said.

She said the current budget makes room for vast improvements in the district’s ability to support students with mental health issues.

“This kind of intervention with kids, especially early, will help them stay on track,” Wesslund said.  “Lots of little children need help managing difficulties they have in their life.”

But despite programming like added mental health counselors, Wesslund said there are “always things we cannot fund.” She said she has heard recent requests from constituents for things like facility improvements, technology advances and band instruments.

“We have to continually look at areas and be as efficient as we can,” she said.

Schools themselves are the most important area  that must be considered in the budget, Wesslund said.  But she said support systems, such as the district’s central office, are also important for school’s to succeed.

Earlier this year, state Auditor Adam Edelen’sreview of district finances described the Jefferson County Public Schools central office as “bloated.”

Board member Linda Duncan said the response to the audit has been adequate in the most critical areas.

“We took seriously on the recommendations,” she said.  “I believe we are making progress.”

Duncan also said she expects the budget presented Monday for board for approval will pass without much deliberation.

“I felt like this was a good budget and we have a lot of things in there that are going to support kids,” she said.

Schools of Innovation

Before the start of the meeting, school board members will have a special work session on the district’s proposal to turn the winning concepts of the Schools of Innovation competition into actual schools.

Board member Duncan said the district’s previous presentation on Schools of Innovation progress at the September 8 meeting was “cold.”

“We had no preparation for knowing what schools had been identified,” she said.  “It was difficult to even react.”

Last week, the district hosted public meetings to discuss the proposal to move what would become the Louisville Reach Academy into the Myers Middle School building.  The Catalpa School concept would move into the facility at Maupin Elementary.

Both schools are set to enroll students for the 2015-2016 school year.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.