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Pruitt Sets Town Halls Amid Potential Changes For Public Education

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The head of the Kentucky Department of Education will hold a series of town hall events across the state in the coming weeks.

The meetings come in the wake of controversial changes being pushed by the Republican-led state legislature for public education in Kentucky.

Commissioner Stephen Pruitt will make stops at five schools across the state to get feedback from residents on a new accountability system that’s been under development by state officials for the last year, according to the education department.

The accountability system is being designed to evaluate schools on five indicators and comes as the federal government shifts oversight and responsibility for school accountability to states, according to a news release from the department.

But Pruitt’s town halls come as lawmakers are considering legislation to enable the creation of charter schools, which could bring fundamental changes to public education in the state.

It’s still unclear if the bill will pass the General Assembly. But supporters, including Gov. Matt Bevin, have championed the benefits of broader school choice. Opponents say charter schools would leach funding and resources from existing public schools.

Pruitt has previously said charters can work, but they’re not a silver bullet to solve the problems facing public education in Kentucky.

His visit to Louisville also comes just more than a month after he announced plans to conduct a sweeping audit of Jefferson County Public Schools. The audit of the district's management could lead to a state-takeover of Kentucky's largest school district, he told The Courier-Journal.

"We see some things that are concerning, in some cases alarming," he said.

Pruitt is set to be in Louisville on March 22 at the Kentucky School for the Blind. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.