LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - At Tuesday night’s Jefferson County Public Schools board of education meeting, members approved next year’s budget, which includes a controversial move to eliminate some positions and add others.
The budget for the 2019-2020 school year is $1,738,718,209 - or $1.7 billion. It’s a budget larger than that of the city of Louisville.
Under the new budget, $4.4 million will go towards mental health practitioners. Around $3.5 million will go towards the Academies of Louisville. There’s also $1 million designated for a safety and security plan, but that is still under consideration.
In order to pay for that, and other new programs, the district had to find the funding in other places. Under the original reorganization plan, 87 administrators would be demoted. Also, 229 positions -75 of which are currently vacant - would be eliminated.
However, the same number of positions will be added, meaning some staff members will be moved around.
Also, school psychologists were slated to work 195 days instead of 200 days. However, some things were changed in the proposal before the vote.
Now, 45 administrators will be demoted, and school psychologists and social workers won’t be affected.
Board members said the reorganization will save the district an estimated $1.34 million a year.
It was not an easy decision for the board, in fact, two members voted it down, including board chair Diane Porter.
“It doesn’t matter what we say, it doesn’t matter what we do, but it matters how we make people feel and we have not done the best job with that and that’s a shame on us," Porter said. "I’m a person, you’re a person - try to step in someone else’s shoes and try to understand how they have felt.”
Board members criticized the short amount of time they were given to look over the proposal before the vote.
“That’s not something that I would hope to see again in the future,” board member James Craig said. “We need to be able to provide meaningful board input into these decisions and the last ten days or so going back and forth with text conversations isn’t the best way to do it.”
The plan also got push back from some staff and students who spoke at the meeting.
“Our members deserve to go home at the end of the day feeling informed and valued - not devastated and demeaned by incorrect information that does not hold the mental health of a dedicated employee in high regard,” Sue Foster, President of the Jefferson County Association of Education of Support Personnel, said.
For more on how the budget breaks down, click or tap here.
No one under the collective bargaining agreement will lose pay because of this decision. JCPS officials said they will help non-union employees find other positions within the district for which they are qualified.