Kentucky School Advocate
State Supreme Court rules Jefferson County tax can stand
In a unanimous decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled June 16 that opponents of a property tax increase for Jefferson County Schools failed to obtain enough signatures on a petition to place the issue on the November 2020 ballot. The ruling upholds an earlier decision by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Brian Edwards.
The high court’s decision means JCPS will have millions of dollars more per year to invest in its schools. The district will also have increased bonding capacity to fund capital improvements.
“We are pleased with the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Judge Edwards’ ruling that the petition did not contain sufficient signatures as required by law,“ said Superintendent Marty Pollio. “We can now take giant steps forward with our vision of a Future State for Jefferson County Public Schools. This is a win for the children of Jefferson County.”
In 2020, the Jefferson County Board of Education approved a seven-cent increase in the property tax rate. Opponents gathered signatures and the Jefferson County clerk’s office certified the petition to place the measure on the November ballot, but a review of the petition found duplicate names, erroneous addresses and birthdates and missing information totaling in the thousands, prompting a lawsuit by the school board and Jefferson County Teachers Association to invalidate the recall measure.
In its ruling, the Kentucky Supreme Court said the nonexistent security of the ballot initiative's process was enough to invalidate the petition. It was the first time tax recall petition signatures were collected electronically, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The justices also rejected the notion that the school board had not provided proper public notice about its plans for the property tax rate increase. The district has collected two years’ worth of property taxes at the higher rate, placing nearly $75 million in escrow until the court’s ruling.
EPSB approves new alternative route to teaching certification
The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) approved an emergency administrative regulation for a new expedited alternative teaching certification pathway, referred to as Option 9.
House Bill 277, sponsored by Rep. Walker Thomas, allowed for the option which offers expedited certification of a person to teach at any grade level through a cooperative program. This new route differs from other options because it is available to candidates who have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Under Option 9, an EPSB-approved college or university may partner with a district or educational cooperative to develop an expedited certification program that results in a bachelor’s degree and initial teaching certification within three school years. The program must:
• Include a residency or paraprofessional component in the participating district.
• Use experienced teachers to provide coaching and mentorship
• May include an emphasis on developing a teacher pipeline for the district’s students, improving the numbers of underrepresented populations in the district or focusing on increasing the number of certified teachers in high demand areas.
Candidates must meet the admission requirements for an undergraduate initial certification educator preparation program and be enrolled in the program. The partnering district will assist in meeting the field experience hours during the first two years of employment. In the third year of employment, the candidate is required to be placed in a setting that is consistent with the certification sought.
Option 9 was developed in partnership between Kentucky legislators, Christian County Public Schools, Murray State University and the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative in order to address teacher shortages.
Ellnor named School Nutrition Administrator of the Year
The assistant director of Jefferson County Public Schools’ nutrition operation has won a top award from a group of his Kentucky peers. Dan Ellnor was named Kentucky School Nutrition Administrator of the Year by the Kentucky School Nutrition Association at its recent annual conference in Lexington. The award is based upon demonstrated excellence and service to the winner’s school district and community.
“I am humbled to have my passion and drive to fight hunger and inequality recognized by my peers,” Ellnor said. “I hope to continue to live up to this distinction and have it serve as an example for others. It has been a distinct honor to serve Kentucky at a national level as well as the Louisville community as Assistant Director of Nutrition Services with JCPS.”
Ellnor has been with JCPS for 16 years, served on the board of the state organization during the same time period and was elected as its president in 2017.