LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Jefferson County Board of Education District 7 seat is up for grabs. Sarah McIntosh, JCPS mother and former teacher and Tammy Stewart, former JCPS bus driver are running for the seat.
WAVE 3 News reached out to both candidates to ask them about important topics impacting JCPS, including the JCPS property tax increase, how to address racial equity in schools and the student assignment proposal. Stewart did not respond to our multiple requests for an interview. WAVE 3 News reached out by phone, email, social media message and knocked on her front door. According to her campaign social media page, Stewart said she wants to be a “conservative voice for your children.” She wrote she would focus on fiscal responsibility, accountability, school safety and structure.
McIntosh told WAVE 3 News if elected, she would use her decades of experience to be a voice for students and parents.
“I have over two decades of working in education in various capacities, as an educator, as an advocate, as a parent, volunteer, so running for school board seemed like the next logical step to take that advocacy further and really be a voice for our families and for our students and brining experience to the conversation of what really needs to happen in classrooms and within our schools to see improvements and change,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh told WAVE 3 News she personally plans to vote in favor of the JCPS property tax increase, however she understands why others may choose not to support it.
“There’s the private citizen mom that wants to see more resources put into our schools, and we desperately need them, but I also understand the concerns particularly of homeowners about what it’s going to do to their mortgage payment and any financial burden that it would create for them individually,” McIntosh said. “If it doesn’t pass, we’re going to have to look at other options for revenue and probably have to explain to the community why certain things can’t happen on the timeline they would want, for example, construction of new schools and infrastructure improvements.”
When asked how to best address racial equity within schools, McIntosh responded saying it is a difficult task to accomplish, but she would start by pushing for smaller class sizes in high need schools.
“I think we need to (also) invest in wrap-around services. Whatever that is going to look like will be dependent on the population’s needs, so that could be mental health supports, mental health supports for the entire family, not just the student. I think comprehensive review of curriculum to make sure that it’s not only culturally inclusive, but that it’s also relevant to what the students' needs are and their ultimate goals,” McIntosh said. “I think the way you could do that part of it, especially with older students, is to build on the Academies of Louisville model. It’s a great program, I just think we can make it bigger and better to also include more businesses., more career options and bring in some of our small businesses as well as partners. I think we can do a better job of building community partnerships as well for mentoring, and after school; before school programs and find ways of extending the learning beyond the classroom, because what we also have to instill in students is confidence and pride and hope for their future and create multiple pathways for them to be able to achieve whatever their goals are,” McIntonsh said.
McIntosh told WAVE 3 News she likes the ‘dual-resides’ student assignment proposal the board recently presented but described it as a “first step” and “not a complete plan.”
“We have to look at getting kids closer to home for those who want to be, because that way parents have the opportunity to be more involved, and then when we do provide those before and after school wrap around services, those services are in the community and not across town, and I think that would enable more parents and families to take advantage of them. I think one of the other things we have to do is simplify the process. A lot of families have a difficult time even navigating the system that we have currently. I have a 5th grader who is going to transition into 6th grade next year, so I’m on the parent end of that and deciding where she is going to go and how we’re going to manage that as a family, so we need to be able to communicate to families in a clearer way about how that works but also simplify the process. We really need to address the disparities in course offerings at a lot of our schools, especially at the middle and high school levels. You shouldn’t have to travel across town to access AP programs. You shouldn’t have only one school offering very popular programs that are denying hundreds, maybe even 1,000 kids every year. We could replicate and expand certain programs that are very popular and successful. I’m not saying eliminate, I’m saying grow that and build on that success so that kids and families are going to be more likely to choose schools in their community. When you pair that with the assignment plan moving forward, you can build on providing a lot more choice for families and frankly making things more convenient for families as well.”
McIntosh said voters should elect her because she has decades of experience “working in schools, with schools and for students.” She added she also has experience working with policy and budgets on the school level.
“While I have the passion, I also have the knowledge, so when I promise you things like fiscal responsibility, transparency, I know what I’m looking for, I know how to answer the difficult questions; I know which questions need to be asked,” McIntosh said.