© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

In bristling speech, Pollio says big changes are bearing fruit for JCPS

A man stands on a small stage, speaking from behind a clear lectern.
Jess Clark
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said the work the district has done over the last few years has helped address equity and overall student wellbeing.

In his annual state of the district address, a prickly JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio touted recent changes as successes, and fended off criticism.

Major changes in Jefferson County Public Schools are bearing fruit – that was one message JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio brought to an audience gathered for his annual state of the district address Tuesday.

Under the chandeliers of the Olmsted ballroom, Pollio addressed a crowd of top JCPS administrators and prominent community members. He touted overhauls to student assignment and curriculum as successes, along with expanded summer learning and a new funding model that sends more money to high-needs schools.

Pollio discussed the initiatives as plans in previous state of the district addresses.

“Fortunately, now I can talk about not what we're going to do, but what we've done, and how that has had a positive impact on the students in our district,” Pollio said.

He pointed to new investments in Louisville's West End, including new facilities and teacher stipends for those who stay in high-needs schools.

“That is the major lever we can pull to fight poverty in our district: is making sure we fund those students who have the least amount of resources in their home,” he said.

Pollio said he believed those initiatives are beginning to pay off, nodding to a recent study showing JCPS students are recovering faster academically from the pandemic than students in most other large urban districts.

But Pollio’s overall tone was defensive. He threw shots at the media for focusing on the transportation crisis and at GOP lawmakers in Frankfort who have JCPS in the crosshairs for a possible split.

“Anything that takes away support and funding from these students, I can assure you that I'm going to stand up and fight against, and I would ask you to do the same thing,” he told the crowd.

A prickly Pollio spent much of his speech countering what he called “misconceptions” about JCPS. He noted that, contrary to rhetoric among GOP lawmakers in Frankfort, JCPS has the lowest spending per pupil on administrative costs out of every district in the state, according to a report from the Kentucky Department of Education he shared.

He also shared statistics showing JCPS’ per-pupil spending is lower than Fayette County Public Schools, a district which draws far less criticism from politicians.

Most frustrating to Pollio is the rhetoric about discipline, he said.

“I get accused, from some government entities and politicians, that we are under-disciplined. And then I get investigated by a lot of other organizations, political organizations, the federal government, for over-disciplining kids,” he said.

Pollio said if GOP lawmakers follow through on talks of splitting up JCPS, it would be “the most damaging [decision] to this community in many, many years.”

Pollio briefly addressed the ongoing transportation issues.

“I'm sorry, to our media friends, this will not be all about transportation. I know that's what they would like to hear,” he said facetiously.

The superintendent said that due to a driver shortage, the district will need to make “tough decisions” about transportation.

“None of those choices have great answers — or might have unintended consequences with them,” he said.

Staff have said cutting nearly all magnet and traditional program transportation is the only solution they can find.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.