Hargens, Edelen laud JCPS progress after audit

Published: May. 22, 2015 at 12:08 AM EDT|Updated: May. 29, 2015 at 12:08 AM EDT
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Adam Edelen (Source: Rick Miller/WAVE 3 News)
Adam Edelen (Source: Rick Miller/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - What a difference a year makes - that was the sentiment echoed by the head of the Jefferson County school district and the auditor who found last year that the district was wasting millions of dollars.

Speaking at a panel on Thursday, Dr. Donna Hargens, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, and Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen discussed the changes that JCPS is making to address concerns raised in audit that was released last year.

Summarizing the findings, Edelen said, "Over decades, the Jefferson County Public Schools bureaucracy grew and grew and grew until, candidly, it was my belief that we haven't had a superintendent in a long time who was truly running the organization."

The auditor's report says the office's yearlong investigation "identified outdated and inefficient operations that cost taxpayers millions of dollars, a school board that doesn't provide adequate oversight, an inconsistent contracting process, a toothless internal audit system and serious security and privacy concerns."

On Thursday, Edelen, who is known for being blunt, said that much of Kentucky is poor and the state "doesn't have the luxury of making dumb decisions." That, he said, is why he got into the business of investigating public education, claiming to be the first state auditor to do so.

Hargens, who thanked Edelen for his report and called him a friend, said the school district is in the process of looking at salary structure, which hadn't been reviewed since 1979. She also said the district eliminated some spending and programs "that weren't making an impact."

She noted that Edelen's office did not find any fraud, corruption or mismanagement of funds, only "areas where JCPS can and has improved."

See more about the auditor's findings and the response by JCPS in WAVE's previous coverage.

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