Jim Sexton - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Jim Sexton

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Tell me a little bit about your background?

Actually, I've spent about 46 years in education, but 43 of those were with Jefferson County Public Schools, being a principal of Jeffersontown and Eastern. I've spent the last 20 years at Eastern. I spent 14 years at Jeffersontown so I've graduated about 15 thousand students from District 7. I'm hoping my name recognition that the students remember what we had in the schools we were working in. We had a good time and we educated a great number of students and sent them on their way.

What made you want to run for school board?

I still believe I can make a difference in District 7 where I reside. Some of my friends who are builders and realtors are very disgusted really about the lack of predictability when they're trying to build a home, sell a home, show people they might be interested in or property. They can't predict where their sons and daughters are going to school. The major question they get asked immediately is what school district is this? Where will my son or daughter go to school? They can't tell them, so a lot of people that are moving into Louisville decide rather than gamble with that that they will either find a private or parochial school or they just won't buy in Jefferson County, they'll go to Oldham or Spencer or Shelby County. They've had a major building and school boom enrollment. I really think our school enrollment should be about 120,000 students right now. We're still wavering around 100,000, 96,000, 97,000 because we do not have any holding power because we don't have any predictability about where students are going to go to school so younger families that move into our area, it's a talent drain. A lot of talent is leaving Jefferson County because they don't know where their sons and daughters are going to go to school. I'm trying to advocate especially for people that are moving in that they are guaranteed a seat in their neighborhood school. Now after they've been there awhile they may have a choice and we have some good choice schools, but for new people moving to our community they don't know this, they're scared off.

What is the one thing you will do to change the student assignment plan?

I think we have to have some holding power. Some predictability about where students are going to go to school immediately, not 3 months down the road in a lottery. We've got to stop this every year tax increase on the property owners of Jefferson County. The maximum  taxes are going to continue to happen with the present board. The teacher's union made that a part of their questioning when they were talking to me. Would I vote for the maximum tax each year on the homeowners and I said no way. I will not vote for any tax increases. I pledged that. You can bet that the candidate JCTA backs has been asked that and he has said I will vote maximum tax each year.

If you will not increase taxes, how will you get funding for the schools?

I will vote no for tax increases, in any form. The homeowners, the property owners of Jefferson County have been beaten up enough.

Where would get funding?

You have to freeze the hiring and you have to let attrition pay for all the expenses that you would need. We have huge, huge numbers of administrators. I'm not saying that we need to cut our teaching staff because our enrollment is rolling to a pretty good class size right now so we don't want to increase class size. We have great teachers, but we certainly are overstaffed administratively and of course or transportation costs are pretty big too.

Do you agree with changes in student assignment plan or would you like to see something different?

Clusters having more opportunities is great but the main choice should be your neighborhood school. If you want your son or daughter to go to your neighborhood school you should be guaranteed a seat there. Not everyone is going to take that choice and that's fine. We have some great choices, but you should have that option. If you're moving in new to our community you certainly don't want to wonder where one of the elementary schools is and go check it out and have to find it, you have a neighborhood school guarantee a seat to that family and you'll see the changes occurring.

What do you have to say to the argument from those who say it's not possible to have neighborhood schools because of overcrowding and other issues?

I disagree. We need to plan for building some homes. If you look at District 7, which I'm hoping to represent, it's the largest land mass left in Jefferson County. There are no schools on the other  side of Gene Snyder. No public schools. I wonder if there are any plans? There are great parks that were put in. Floyds Fork park. People are going to want to live around parks. This is a great chance for development of Jefferson County but if we're not making plans for building new schools because there are empty seats in the inner city or other parts of Jefferson County we're making a huge mistake on the growth of Jefferson County. We have a talent drain coming if we're not real careful.

What would you say the one thing you've seen the board do that you would agree with?

I haven't been watching the board as closely. I know they are unified. They're working together now. I have to compliment them on that. They're not having a lot of infighting about administration. They do have some good strategic goals for the future, but they are missing the point of neighborhood schools. And they are missing the point of continuing to tax the homeowners.

Anything else you want to add?

Cards and letters are going to start coming your way if you are a homeowner you are going to get all kind of a blitz from the teacher's union on their candidate. They want to keep that seat. It's important negotiations for salaries and they are trying very hard to take control on the school assignments from the principal and they need votes to do that.