Education Commissioner concerned about JCPS re-staffing

By Elizabeth Donatelli - bio | email

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A dozen Jefferson County Public Schools are set to get millions from the federal government, but re-staffing issues could cost some a bundle. Twelve under-performing Jefferson County Public Schools are set to receive $23 million dollars, but they must follow federal regulations to get it. Kentucky's Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says he's concerned about the schools that chose to re-staff.

"We got a report from the Office of Education Accountability back in December that expressed some concerns about the re-staffing model," said Holliday.

Re-staffing moves half of the teachers at Doss, Fairdale and Seneca High School. The three schools were deemed low achieving by the state in reading and math scores.

"We're just trying to make sure kids are getting what they need," said Holliday.

JCPS is operating under the assumption that re-structuring began July 1, 2008. That means any teacher hired after that is considered re-staffed, but that's where the questions start.

"Our question to Jefferson County...Are the people that you hired two years ago and the ones you're hiring now, are you hiring them under the same criteria, and that is a federal guideline," said Holliday.

The state will review every teaching position and examine it against the guidelines.

"Two years ago we didn't know that they were a low performing school," said Holliday. "So I'm a little bit worried about what was the criteria two years ago, and if that criteria were used two years ago, why haven't we seem some results? That's my question."

WAVE took the question to JCPS Board of Education Chair Stephen Imhoff and asked if the current re-staffing will meet the regulations.

"I would have to sit down and read those regulations," said Imhoff. "Until this question came up a day or two ago, we just rely on staff telling us that we are within guidelines and all of that."

If it doesn't match-up the commissioner could intervene. The KY Department of Education sent an audit team into Jefferson County last year and will do the same this year to decide who should make the decisions.

"If they make a recommendation that the district does not have capacity, then as Commissioner I have the ability to intervene," said Imhoff.

This is something the JCPS Board of Education members know.

"Dr. Holliday's watching us closely, and I think he has high expectations for our district," said board member Debbie Wesslund. "We need to reflect those locally."

Holliday also talked about the federal money which will go to positions like a full-time math coach, literacy coach, principal coach and a part-time district coach. He says he has someone in mind for the district coach who is a retired urban superintendent. This person would work about 20 days a year, interacting with the Board and helping transition the new superintendent.

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