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Jefferson County Public Schools Responds to State Audit

Jefferson County Public Schools plans to review salaries, analyze school staffing levels and inventory text books in response to a critical state audit earlier this year.The Jefferson County Board of Education on Monday approved a formal response to state Auditor Adam Edelen's review, which criticized the size of the JCPS central administration among its findings.  The school board requested the auditlast year in a 5-2 vote on Superintendent Donna Hargens' recommendation. Earlier: State Audit of Jefferson County Public Schools Resurfaces Many Old QuestionsJCPS administration also pledged to take steps to ensure that school board members better understand the budget, addressing another of Edelen's concerns.Here's an outline of the "action steps" from JCPS: -Benchmarking (Classroom Resources)—To ensure that all teachers have properly resourced classrooms, the district will provide principals additional guidelines and training regarding existing policies on the teacher stipends section of their budgets. JCPS currently provides $140 per student for instructional supplies. The current state requirement is $100 per student. -Benchmarking (Textbooks)—Each principal or designee will conduct an inventory of all base textbooks in the four core areas and indicate the availability of resources for students to take home. We will use this inventory to ensure that each school has appropriate instructional resources and textbooks during the annual budget process. -Benchmarking (School Staffing)—School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Councils are responsible for staffing decisions at each school, as mandated by state statute. However, to help ensure that schools have optimal ratios of teachers, instructional assistants, counselors, and administrators, we will conduct an analysis of staffing levels approved by the JCBE and by SBDM Councils. Then, district leadership will conduct meetings with individual school administrators to provide feedback on current staffing decisions and obtain consensus of true staffing needs for the future. -Benchmarking (Compensation)—JCPS will submit a request for proposal for a salary review. This ensures that all employees are fairly compensated for their duties and responsibilities and that our salary scale is reflective of today’s market. -Governance (Fiscal)—Will improve sharing of pertinent information to ensure that the JCBE has a greater understanding of budget items and the budget process so that members can make informed decisions. -Internal Audit—JCPS is reviewing the scope and nature of our internal audit function, which will move to a best-practice, risk-based work plan. The JCBE will have more formal oversight in this area, and we will consolidate fraud hotline and complaints tracking, as recommended in the audit. -Contracting—JCPS is implementing a centralized database of all contracts, as called for in the review. -Information Technology—To further fortify the safety of confidential digital information, JCPS continues to work closely with the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) not only to investigate areas of potential improvement but also to employ a risk- based approach to ensure that sufficient protective measures are evaluated and implemented.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

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