The largest school system in Kentucky is seeking a 7 cent property tax increase on the November ballot. The Jefferson County Board of Education voted last week to pass a resolution committing to how they would spend the increased revenue – a step lauded by Yes 4 JCPS, a non-profit group of community and business leaders.
The measure has been endorsed by Greater Louisville Inc., which is the chamber of commerce for the metro area.
“There is no question that Louisville should be investing more in education,” said Jim Lancaster, CEO of Lantech. “Just last week, Louisville got the news that Papa John’s is moving its headquarters to Atlanta because it needs a diverse community with skilled workers it can’t find in Louisville. But the investment we are making must come with accountability about how that money will be spent.”
If approved, the ballot issue will help generate $54 million annually. The Board resolution called for funds to be spent this way:
- At least $15 million for 21st-century facilities that engage students and faculty;
- At least $15 million for resources in our highest-need schools;
- At least $12 million for racial equity initiatives; and
- At least $12 million for additional student instructional time.
Yes 4 JCPS Steering Committee Chair Alice Houston said passage of the resolution was critical for ensuring accountability.
“Voters must be confident that this money will be invested in the places it’s most needed,” said Houston. “This allocation will bolster Louisville in four key ways.”
- Stronger workforce for Louisville: This will allow the expansion of career-ready programs that train students to be technicians, mechanics, healthcare workers and more and will support the workforce needs of Louisville businesses.
- Addressing equity: Increased funding will allow resources to be added to places where the need is the greatest, in West Louisville schools and underserved schools throughout the community and ensuring all students have the take-home technology they need to perform 21st Century Schoolwork, internet access for every student in every neighborhood and expanding summer learning programs giving kids the head start they need on the school year.
- Teacher retention and recruitment: This year, teachers have been the frontline workers during the pandemic, inventing new ways to do school and turning their homes into educational studios. We need to continue to recruit and retain the kind of highly motivated, skilled educators who will meet all our challenges with drive, energy and innovation.
- Safer, healthier classrooms: We need to renovate or replace schools with failing electric and HVAC systems – or even failing roofs. We also need modernized athletic facilities.
The proposed property tax increase is a modest 7 cents on a $100 of real estate value. That means about $70 a year for a house worth $100,000. That’s about $2 a week, or 20 cents a day. The average home value in Louisville is about $150,000.