Jefferson County community, business and education leaders are rallying to get a tax increase passed for repairs to Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS).
The tax increase was added to the November ballot after an opposing group was able to collect more than 40,000 signatures on a petition. This means voters will have the final say.
Wednesday, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio and Theresa Camoriano the woman who started the "No JCPS Tax Hike" petition squared off.
Dr. Pollio said money from the tax increase will be used to update the schools in the district and potentially build new ones.
"We brought a large team together that we can ask the community to invest in," Dr. Pollio said.
However, Camoriano argues that the district should work with the money they have and stop taxing citizens.
"There's a moral obligation to use that tax money wisely. JCPS ranks high in spending and low in performance," Camoriano said.
If the increase passes, it would cost homeowners about an extra 70 dollars per year on a home valued at $100,000.
The newly formed non-profit group 'Yes 4 JCPS' said in a press release they're goal is to build support for the November ballot initiative. With absentee ballots going out soon and early voting starting in a month, the group is working hard to educate voters about how the additional money will be invested.
The advocacy group, includes a diverse group of leaders who believe Louisville’s economic future depends on a better-educated workforce.
“There has never been a more important time than now to invest in the education of our children –our community, tomorrow’s workforce and our future. If we expect Louisville to create the opportunities where every child and family can thrive and the community can grow, we must have a school system with the resources to deliver the education for all children regardless of race, income or neighborhood,” Alice Houston, chairwoman of 'Yes 4 JCPS' and an owner of HJI Supply Chain Solutions said.
JCPS leaders said its nearly 100,000 students were facing great challenges – even before COVID-19.
According to JCPS the challenges include:
Outdated school buildings – Louisville hasn’t built a new high school in 52 years.
Racial inequities – Currently more than 6,000 West Louisville students lack the opportunity to go to the schools that are closest to them because there aren’t enough schools or classrooms nearby.
Reduced state funding – In the past five years, JCPS has lost $42 million a year in state funding from Frankfort with money for textbooks and teacher training cut to zero.
Technology gaps – The pandemic has exposed a glaring lack of laptops and wi-fi resources that are essential for learning in a 21st century tech-driven world.
The ballot issue will help generate more than $51 million annually to help resolve these challenges, the press release states.