Education

Less than 24 hours after the Jefferson County Board of Education voted in a 5-2 split to raise property taxes Thursday, an online effort was underway to recall the decision.

An online petition to recall the increase argues Louisville residents are over-taxed, and that Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is already spending more per student than many other Kentucky school districts, without good outcomes.

“Sadly, the results in JCPS are much worse than the results in the private schools, with many JCPS students not able to read and write adequately and not able to perform basic math – in other words not prepared for a successful life,” a page on the site reads.

The 7-cent tax increase would raise the annual tax bill on a $200,000 home by $140. The increase can be recalled by referendum if within the next 50 days those opposed can gather 35,000 signatures on their petition. If they are successful, the tax hike would appear on the ballot in the November general election.

WFPL News reached out to the website’s administrator, but did not hear back. According to reporting by WDRB, Louisville Tea Party president Theresa Camoriano is leading the petition effort.

JCPS board member Chris Kolb said while it’s true that JCPS spends more money per student than many other Kentucky school districts, JCPS students have greater needs, and are more expensive to educate.

“We…have at least 5,000 homeless students, 65,000 kids in poverty, one-third of all English Language Learners [in the state] go to school at JCPS,” he said. “All of those are reasons why our spending is a little bit higher than the statewide average.”

According to the latest data available from the Kentucky Department of Education, JCPS spends $16,044 per student, 15% more than the state average of $13,887 per student.

Kolb and other supporters of the tax increase say it’s needed to address $1.2 billion in facility needs and improve academic outcomes for students.

 

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.