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JCPS Board Starts 2015 With Two New Faces

school
Eleanor Hasken
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Sarah Yost prepares her classroom for her new students at Wesport Middle School, in Louisville, Ky., on Friday, August 8, 2014. Photo by Eleanor Hasken

Over the last two years, the seven-member Jefferson County Board of Education has added five new members—two of whom will be sworn in Monday night.

Though only two board members have served more than two years, the JCPS board won't have any less bite, said chairwoman Diane Porter, one of the senior board members.

Since the 2010 JCPS board elections in which four new JCPS board members were added, the Louisville school system has seen the release and reaction to Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen's scathing audit, creation of two new schools of innovation and other new issues that new and veteran board members have been faced with.

Now, Stephanie Horne replaces Debbie Wesslund, who is retiring from the District 3 board seat. And Lisa Willner bested longtime board member Carol Haddad in the fall for the District 6 seat.

"I've been doing a good deal of reading on a broad range of education topics, and meeting with educators to be as prepared as possible," Willner wrote in an email to WFPL. "My learning will continue as I resume office, and I'm grateful for the solid training I've received so far."

Willner and Horne join Porter and District 5's Linda Duncan, both of whom were re-elected, in being sworn in Monday night. Porter said the two freshman have received three board orientation meetings.

“I think they have clearly done some work prior January to take the position," Porter said.

Porter said she is excited for 2015 and looking forward to building upon the board's ongoing work, including the opening of the district's first schools of innovation and finding ways to reduce the number of suspensions in schools.

"My personal philosophy is that we can't teach children if we don't have them in school. We want them to be in a safe environment, of course. But it's important to me we have students in school so that they have that opportunity for instruction," she said.

At Monday's meeting a chairperson and vice chairperson will be elected by the board. Porter said she has enjoyed being the board chairperson, but it would be premature to comment on whether she would like to keep her position before Monday night.

To see responses from the two new school board members, gohere for Horne andhere for Willner.