Parents sound off over JCPS tax increase and busing fiasco - News, Weather & Sports

Parents sound off over JCPS tax increase and busing fiasco

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Christina Turner Christina Turner
Linda Yuda Linda Yuda
Rob Mattheu Rob Mattheu
Gina Mays Gina Mays
Louisville, KY -

By Connie Leonard - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Something needs to change. That was the consensus Monday night at a Jefferson County Board of Education school board meeting among outraged parents and even some school board members discussing the busing fiasco that left hundreds of kids in limbo on the first day of school. Parents also sounded off at the over another just approved tax increase.

During the meeting, the board approved a tax hike of roughly a $30 increase on a $100,000 home. It's the third tax increase in three years, and according to district officials it's meant to help offset decreasing home values. Parents and community members at the meeting reminded the board this is an election year and said another tax increase will not solve the problems JCPS is having.

"You all have done a disservice to all of the children in this school system," said parent Christina Turner addressing the board.

Grandmother Linda Yuda expressed the frustration of her granddaughter who's in kindergarten on the first day of school.

"She got off the bus at 6:30 and the first thing she said was, 'I like the school part but I'm never getting on another bus," Yuda told the board members.

School board members expected the response after a week of busing mayhem that ensued after hundreds of young students made it home hours after their classes let out on August 17, the first day of school. Some of those students didn't arrive home until 9 p.m. That, combined with the fact that JCPS proposed and approved another tax increase after spending big bucks on new buses for the busing plan that went bust, didn't go over so well.

"Why are you talking about a property tax increase when you spend so much money on busing students away from their own neighborhoods?" one parent asked the board. "Think about the gas, the time, the wear and tear on the buses, it just doesn't make sense."

A community member told the board the city has taken furloughs and pay cuts amid the current budget crunch and asked, "Why can't you?"

Two JCPS elementary school principals were suspended for a few days due to the busing problems. Dr. Berman said Julia Lewis at King Elementary and Sonya Unseld at Lincoln Elementary were reprimanded because they failed to take significant action in preparing for the district's new bus plan. Parents told Dr. Berman they thought he was simply passing the buck.

"Dr. Berman as the leader of JCPS, at what point is anything your responsibility?" said Rob Mattheu, addressing the board and Berman. "And to the members of the board, at what point do you hold Dr. Berman accountable for what happens on his watch?"

"If I had been that incompetent and irresponsible with my children, I would be facing charges, I would be going to jail," said Gina Mays about the way the children were handled on the first day of school.

One parent who didn't sign up to speak, but said she didn't know she had to, got very upset when the board asked her not to speak until after the meeting.

In the end, board members told parents they were listening and some even said they believed the problems of last week deserved a thoughtful review of the new busing plan.

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