Frequently Asked Questions
- The November election will feature a ballot measure allowing for new investments in Jefferson County Public Schools. Voting “Yes 4 JCPS” means that JCPS will be able to provide more support for the students who need it most, build new schools and improve existing facilities, and invest more in technology and teachers. It’s a modest investment for individual homeowners, but it will add up to a better school district for Louisville.
This is a 7-cent increase in property taxes. The tax rates will still be lower than it is in Lexington, Oldham County or Anchorage – communities that are investing more in education. This is how the new rate would look for homeowners.
- $100,000 house – an extra $70 a year, or 20 cents a day.
- $150,000 house (which is about average in Jefferson County) an extra $105 a year, or 30 cents a day.
- For those over 65, the impact would be somewhat less because of the state Homestead Exemption. If you’re over 65, your $100,000 house would be assessed at $60,700 after the Homestead Exemption is applied, so the cost to you would be $43 per year.
JCPS’ ambitious plan to improve student outcomes is called the JCPS Future State. It’s a five-year initiative designed to:
- reduce the achievement gap by 50%
- raise the proficiency level in reading from 44% to 75%
- raise the proficiency level in math from 35% to 70%.
This initiative represents the first time that a plan of its scope and magnitude will have specific year-over-year funding to effect the changes envisioned. It also includes built-in annual accountability measures to ensure that the investments are paying off.
The Jefferson County School Board passed a resolution on September 17, 2020 pledging to invest the $54 million in the following four dedicated areas:
- Improving resources for students and schools with the highest needs at least $15 million
Providing extra services to students who need them most, developing the highest quality educators, providing incentives to attract and retain the best teachers.
- Addressing racial equity at least $12 million
Addressing the achievement gap, bridging the digital divide, providing resources regardless of geographical location, expanding opportunities for Black teachers and teachers of color, and providing a nearby option for school for all families.
- Increasing student instructional time at least $12 million
Summer learning programs for 10,000 students, offering new experiences beyond the classroom, assuring that every student has a computer or laptop
- Building and/or renovating schools for safety and engagement at least $15 million
Build two new middle schools and one new high school, renovate schools with end-of-life systems and modernize athletic facilities. More than 30 JCPS schools have crucial systems (roofs, HVAC) at the end of functional life; without intervention, entire schools may be forced to close when those systems fail.
Many other cities in Kentucky are paying more in property tax in order to better fund their schools. For example, in 2019:
- Louisville: 73.6 cents per $100
- Lexington: 81 cents per $100 dollars
- Anchorage: 98 cents per $100 dollars
- Oldham County: 78.8 cents per $100 dollars
A 7-cent increase in Louisville would mean we are closer to on-par with the communities who are investing in education.
It is precisely because of all the pressures on our community right now – in the economy, our health, our justice system — that we must support this assessment this fall.
Our students have endured unacceptable gaps in achievement for a generation and those gaps are manifesting in an unbalanced workforce and inequitable quality of life in our community.
When Papa John’s announced it was leaving Louisville, corporate leaders specifically pointed to Atlanta’s diverse, energetic and deep talent pool as the reason. The only way Louisville can catch up is through an aggressive and thorough plan designed to reach the students and schools who have been underserved for years.
We have an opportunity to make a modest investment for a transformational payoff, one that will be tracked, measured and adjusted over the coming five years to ensure the funds are doing what the Board promised they would do.
The time is now. We must pass the assessment this fall because the next opportunity to do so will be in 2022. Our community cannot wait until then; our long-term economic strength is at stake.
- We want to provide laptops or tablets to school children for the same reason we historically provided textbooks and lunches. These are necessary supports to doing your best schoolwork.
- If we want children to perform at high levels and grow up to work in a 21st century economy, they need to have 21st century tools in school. The result will be self-sufficient, independent adults – who innovate, solve problems and help us build the Louisville of the future.
- Expanding JCPS’ successful Academies of Louisville requires funding. The Academies teach career-ready skills to the next generation of carpenters, diesel engine mechanics, health care workers, and other blue- and white-collar employees. These programs require an investment in equipment and technology. They can’t just be taught at the blackboard.
- In the last 5 years, JCPS has lost $42 million in state funding.
- State funding for textbooks and professional development for teachers cut to $0.
- The state is supposed to pay for 100 percent of transportation costs; today it’s more like 60 percent.
- Nationally, teachers are forced to spend on average $475 a year out of their own pockets for school supplies. In urban areas that number is even higher.
- More than 30 JCPS schools have building systems (roofs, HVAC) that are at “end of life” meaning it would be cheaper to replace them than to fix them.
- Without funds for renovation and system replacement, we may be forced to close floors or even entire schools when building systems fail.
- The third floor at Shawnee High School has been condemned for more than 30 years.
- JCPS’ newest high school opened in 1968 – Ballard High. Fayette County has built four new high schools since then.
- The newest high school in West Louisville was built in 1952.
- In the past decade, Fayette County has built 10 new schools. JCPS has built one elementary school.