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Jefferson County Public Schools Considers Priorities For 2015 General Assembly

Jefferson County Public School district officials are gearing up for the start of Kentucky's 2015 General Assembly.

Last week, the Board of Education met with JCPS administrators to discuss a preliminary list of legislative priorities the district will support when state lawmakers convene in Frankfort in January for three months.

The JCPS list, which is still in draft form, includes agendas such as battling charter schoollegislation. If approved, the legislation would siphon funding from public schools, according to JCPS Board Chairwoman Diane Porter.

Porter said opposition to charter schools has been a priority for years.

The school district will also try to develop and implement a long-term solution to the issues surrounding the Kentucky Teacher Retirement System—which has beenunder fire lately for being one of the worst-funded in the country.

“There is a concern about how that would impact the district,” Porter said.  “Again, those are financial issues.”

The district will also be advocating for a policy change that would give superintendents the authority to select or remove principals in low-performing,priority schools.

Currently, the decision to hire or remove a principal rests with the School Based Decision Making council, not the superintendent, Porter noted.

Allowing the superintendent to be a part of the process and collaborate with a school's SBDM would be beneficial in Porter's view.

“If there is a problem with the principal, typically you go back to the superintendent, as opposed to the SBDM committee,” Porter said.

She added that the board seems content with the process beginning at the school level, but she said it’s worth taking a look at the process to see if it is the most effective means of selecting a principal.

The board will also push for policy allowing Districts of Innovation, which JCPS is. This allows for alternative assessment and accountability models.

District leaders will also be looking to address concerns of funding for K-12 education and show support continued use of the common core standards, Porter said.

“Nationally there is conversation about should we pursue the common core,” she said.  “Our position is that it’s working for us.”

JCPS has employed a lobbyist in the past, but a district spokesman said there is currently no one employed to lobby for JCPS when the general assembly begins.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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