Dear JCPS Board of Education Members,

On November 30, I spoke before the board and asked for follow-up data with regards to Adam Edelen’s audit. To date, I have not received a response.

In particular, I am interested in knowing how the following numbers look today, relative to what was identified by the audit several years ago.

  • JCPS ranks at or near the bottom in teacher staffing and expenditures for instruction, while ranking highest in the categories of administrators, support staff and instructional aides.1
  • Specifically, he found that the district pays 369 administrators more than $100,000 a year.2
  • JCPS also had the second-highest student-to-teacher ratio,
  • JCPS ranked the lowest in instructional spending, (at 53 percent of its budget (four of the other five were 60 percent or higher), while ranking highest in administration and operations spending, at 31 percent of its budget.)

Please provide a report with this information as soon as possible.

Following the April 26 board meeting last year when the Community Advisory Team (CAT) made observations that “JCPS needs market reconciliation for teachers, certified administrators and classified positions,” – nearly a year ago –  I sent district leaders the following email message (to which I also received no formal response). In addition to concerns about the CAT make-up, I also mentioned:

“… you’ll recall, the original audit from Adam Edelen came with the observation that administrative salaries were too high, not teachers’. So I’m not sure how this discussion led to the talking point that teachers are “overpaid.” I’m guessing the committee mix above could have had something to do with it. … Again, we feel that the make-up of this committee has led to some very short-sighted conclusions, and seems to have missed the point entirely.”

Upon requesting information as to how these recommendations came about, we were told no minutes were kept. It would appear to us that open meetings and open records laws were violated. Honest mistake, perhaps, but much of this painful detour could have been avoided had the process been more transparent and inclusive of authentic stakeholder input from the beginning.

I further cautioned, “Parents, community members, teachers, students all need district leaders who will do better than this. We ask that JCPS go back to the drawing board to make sure these decisions are being influenced by committees made up of people who bring balanced and “tuned-in” perspectives, who will work together to find equitable and sustainable solutions, and provide our school board with proposals that are likely to result in the best results — the first time! Our kids’ futures are at stake. We don’t get do-overs.”

Taxpayers deserve transparent decision-making and authentic answers to our questions. We expect to see action taken as it relates to the actual “action items” in the audit, or answers that can be used to dispel myths that continue to be used against our district in Frankfort. And we demand accountability. When mistakes are made, we want to know, as our former board chair put it so eloquently, “whose throat to choke.”

I truly thank you for your willingness to serve as an advocate for Jefferson County students. I look forward to your reply.

Thanks, Gay

Gay Adelmann
Dear JCPS

Students in Ms. Weaver’s Exploring Civics Class at Doss High School recently learned about the history of desegregation, busing and current events that could impact student assignment in JCPS. They submitted the following letters sharing what they learned and their opinions on the subject, both pro and con, from the student’s perspective. We wanted to share their amazing letters with you.

Dear JCPS offers an open-letter format. We welcome other students to submit their opinion letters here.

Disclaimers: Opinions are expressly those of the author, and not Dear JCPS. Dear JCPS is not affiliated with Jefferson County Public School system.

Dear JCPS,

I am writing you to talk about the local controversy about busing in JCPS, and as a former victim of busing I say that it needs to come to an end. Although I see why busing is a touchy topic, and it’s hard to say that I feel this way in the first place I believe that there are many more cons to busing versus pros. In the 6th grade I was bused from my home on downtown market street to Crosby middle school, and I hated it. Every minute of it.

Every morning it took me 45 minutes to an hour to get to school, and I had no other choice, I could go to any school in the neighborhood, after the long, painful bus ride when I was inside the school I still dreaded it. Me and everyone that was bused from downtown did not get along with the kids that came from the neighborhood, often found it were one group was having an issue with another group, mainly because of the much different economic status that took place in the school. Downtown is a mainly poor area, and I grew up that way, and kids around the school were fairly wealthy. Me and other kids I knew from downtown were picked on because we didn’t have name brand clothes, or the new iPhone and that caused fights and arguments, and that sucked, but the issue was never about race, and that’s because busing has stopped that issue.

It’s hard to say that I am against busing because it gets rid of the major racism issue, and I’d say that is the biggest part of why busing needs to stay, but it starts so many issues in school and out that instead of getting rid of busing entirely, you need to replace the system. I am against busing don’t get me wrong, having to ride the bus for an hour is ridiculous, one time I finished an entire video game on the bus riding to and home from school. But getting rid of busing without a good replacement is a huge mistake. So I’d like to discuss a plan that I believe could work for busing in jcps.

Not only would ending busing altogether [create] an issue with segregation, but it would make everyone be forced to go to their neighborhood schools, and now that I’m in high school, I would KILL if I was forced to go to my neighborhood school. So I believe that ending busing, but allowing kids to stay in the school that there already in would be a good alternative. Some kids that are being bused enjoy it, they like where they go to school and don’t want to go to their neighborhood school, I understand that, so I think that if you are a student of busing and busing gets replaced you should be able to decide [if] you stay in the school you are currently in, or move to your closest neighborhood school. I know that that plan is far from flawless, and I can see issues with it now, but I like that base idea of it. I think that this plan can be worked on to make a plan that can ultimately make JCPS a better district and a better community. Thank you for your time for reading this letter.

Sincerely,
LB,
A Doss High School Student

Dear JCPS,

Hello, my name is JS. I am a Doss High School student. I am on the freshman side. I would like to discuss something with you today. I would like to have a conversation about the busing of Louisville, Kentucky. I don’t ride the bus but I have friends that do. Also, I don’t like that they are thinking to change it or just stop the busing. It really makes me sad. I would miss my friends so much.

I believe that we should still have busing in Louisville, Kentucky. This is because when you have classes with other kids from different sides of town or different countries, you can learn something from them. You can learn something about their town that you didn’t know or what they like and what they like or dislike about their town or countries. Also you can learn about their different cultures or habits also what they enjoy and what there are.

My second reason is that we have equal opportunities. They got to see new places. Instead of sitting at home. See what’s outside of their neighborhood look like. View more options in their life-time adventures. Maybe, if they do that then they might not drink beer or do drugs. It might help us save a life. We can get them out of the gangs that they’re in.

My third reason: Maybe, one kid in the classroom doesn’t really like talking to their own race of people. Maybe they have friends of different races. This sounds like me. I don’t really have many white friends. Most of my friends are different races.

Also, there is a flip side to this. They could end up doing something and getting people into other things. They could end up getting others in trouble. They could bring drugs into the cities. They could bring it into the country-side too. They could end up messing up people’s careers and their futures too. Please consider my side.

Please don’t change anything about the busing. I would lose all of my friends. I would really miss them.

JS

Dear JCPS,

My name is AR and I’m writing you this letter to talk to you about busing in Louisville, Kentucky. This is really important topic because it affects me, my friends, my classmates, and my family. My opinion about this is that you should continue busing because I want to choose the school I want to go to. If I go to my neighborhood school, then I might not get as good of an education than if I’d stay at Doss.

Here are a couple of reasons why you should keep busing. First of all if we keep busing then it will give us students opportunities to go to schools with more money. Another reason to keep busing is that it eliminates racism in schools. Racial integration is a worthy goal, and busing is an easy means to achieving that goal. Racism is a big problem in the United States and it needs to be eliminated so that everybody can be in peace.

Now one thing you can do to improve busing is maybe changing the routes to where they are faster and you can be there on time to school. Nobody wants to be late to school and miss work then you would have to do it for homework. We want busing in Louisville so if there’s any chance you should change the routes to make them faster. That will improve busing and make it better so we don’t have to worry about kids being late.

Here are a couple of more reasons to keep busing. It gives the people the ability to meet new people and make new friends. Nobody wants to be stuck with the same people each year in the school years. Another reason is that desegregation diminishes many of the disparities and creates a more just society.

The reason I’m writing this letter is to continue busing. In my civics class we learned a lot about segregation. I wish that you will consider reading this and hopefully it influences you. Thank you for reading my letter it makes me happy to know that JCPS listens to its students and don’t just make decisions on their own.

Sincerely,
AR

Dear JCPS,

My name is EC. I am currently a freshman attending Doss High school. I am for busing but I believe that there is a way to help ensure that students don’t have to stay on the bus for hours at a time. As a student on my beginning year of high school, I have made lots of friends and enjoy the school I am currently attending. If they were to stop busing and send students to neighborhood schools I would have to go to [a different] High School.

One way we could improve the busing of students in JCPS is to lessen the amount of bus stops the bus has to go to. By lessening the amount of bus stops the bus takes to pick up students it reduces the amount of gas the bus is using and it also prevents overcrowding. Many buses today have way too many students and this can cause accidents and bus fights to occur. So, we could lessen the amount of bus stops and two of the major problems with busing are solved.

Another way is to allow students with good grades, attendance, and etcetera to attend schools of their choice and if they do not qualify for this then they get sent to schools closer to home. This allows more students to have a choice. Many students go to certain schools because of the certain programs that school has to offer. I see no reason to take away their privilege and taking away the bus that gets them to and from the learning that they desire.

Lastly, we could offer programs that certain schools have to other schools so that some students have a reason to want to go to schools closer to home. This also gives students the chance to participate in extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs that they want to join. Doing this would encourage to go to home schools but it opens opportunities for more students to go to schools of their choice.

I understand this process is going to be a long one. Please, understand many students go to certain schools because they choose too. I believe this new system will help to better the busing system in all JCPS schools.

Sincerely,
EC

Dear JCPS,

My name is KM, a freshman at Doss High School. I am for busing because some schools are better than other schools in JCPS. My neighborhood school would be Valley High School. I would not feel comfortable or safe going to Valley High School. I would not be safe or get the education I need.

There are many reasons why busing should continue. One main reason is desegregation and equal opportunity for public education. If we stop busing, people will go to schools where they don’t get a good education, and if they want to know and learn new material, they won’t be able to. Busing helps students be able to have a good education like many other students; we can’t have a good education if we go to a school that the state picked. If you go to a decent school, you’re more likely to learn better and have more information.

Many people say busing costs a lot of money. Typically, buses do take up a lot of money for gas. But, operating costs of compulsory busing are generally less than five percent of the school’s entire budget. In 1954. Brown v. Board of Education was the case that made integration possible. Louisville, Kentucky [did] not integrate until 1971, and they started busing.

My question is: We came this far from segregation and busing, so why would we go back to not letting it happen? Why should we? We are the new generation, we are free. In Keyes, he wrote that in an era of declining student achievement is wrong to turn the attention of communities “from the paramount goal of a quality in education to a perennially divisive debate over who is to be transported where.” This is saying that we should worry that every student is getting the education they deserve.

Of course, there’s two sides to every debate. If we continues to bus, there will be more complaints. When students get bused, some experience discrimination. Parents have to send their child(ren) out far to get a good education. Busing has students on the bus for hours at a time, they hardly ever get to do after school activities because the school is too far and they don’t have a ride.

If JCPS stops busing, it’d be violating the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment states everyone is equal. If you end busing, everyone wouldn’t be equal. If busing stops, not only are you denying race, but classifying by economic wealth. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
KM

Dear JCPS,

Hi my name is CJ. I would like to talk to you about busing. I believe we should keep busing. I think this because it gives all students opportunities to go to schools in areas with more money. It also gives students opportunities to be with students unlike them.

That is good because you can communicate and talk about things that you wouldn’t even consider trying. The biggest reason why busing should stay is that it eliminates racism. We had so much racism in our past that it’s hard to believe it happened. If there is no busing it would go back to mostly white and black schools.

That could even bring back racism. One reason why people said busing shouldn’t be allowed is because it forces them to send their kids far away for good education. I disagree with this because if a kid can get a better education at another school, busing should not be an issue. I understand you guys are under pressure, but busing should stay.

I understand one issue about busing is the price of buses. There is gas to buy and a bunch of other stuff. One idea is to maybe change the design of the buses to use less gas. One example is to make it lighter because heavier vehicles use more gas.

JCPS, these are my reasons on why busing should stay. I am a student in Doss High School. I am writing this for a project, but I am also interested in the topic. I hope this letter would possibly shift your decision to keep busing.

Sincerely,
CJ

Dear JCPS,

Hello, my name is MM. I am a freshman at Doss high school. In my civics class we are learning about integration and how it affects us as a person. So we were asked if we were for or against cross busing in Louisville, Kentucky and why we [felt that way].

I am for busing because I believe that we as a students should have the right to choose the school of our choice. By choosing the school that we wanted to go to it give us a chance to learn about the future goal that we have made for our self. It also gives the students opportunities to get along with students that are from different parts of the town or community. It can also give students opportunities to learn new skills from each other and about the places that they live in or what they do fun.

My second reason is that it give all the students a chance to go to schools in areas with more money. They can also meet students that are as skilled as them so they can give each other advice, support each other to do well in school and it will push them to work harder than before because they have the support of their friend.

My third reason is that it can raises test scores because me as a student try harder when I saw other students work hard. It also makes me keep on working and it can also help eliminate racism because without the busing we will have more students that are white in one high school and there will be more black students in a different school so if you are the only one white in that school it will make you feel like you don’t belong in that school because how you look.

To change this problem I would like to give you one way to make the busing better. My plan is to add more busing in a school so the bus driver don’t have to worry about being late for the other school and the students will not be late to their class.

Sincerely,

MM

Dear JCPS,

My name is J. S., I am a student attending Doss High School. I am writing to explain my reasoning why busing in JCPS should continue. JCPS busing program is perfectly fine the way it is. Busing is a way many kids are having fun with their friends, at compound children at seeing and meeting people they like and socialize with. Even the wait on compound busing is fun for others, for example gives some of them a chance to finish work if they didn’t feel like doing work as soon as they got home.

If JCPS were to change the busing it wouldn’t encourage lots of children to attend school. Students wouldn’t want to go to school that does not help them achieve their biggest goal. A lot of parents tell their child to apply to a certain school they think would give them a better opportunity that can’t reach at their home school. Students base the school they want to attend on their grade point average, programs, activities and etc. All schools don’t have the other programs and activates that most schools have.

There are a lot of CONS that will be faced if busing stops. There wouldn’t be a lot of kids in JCPS, parents would be forced to send their child far away from home for a better education. More children would go to their neighborhood school. Families with lots of money go to private schools because they don’t like people in certain areas (sad but true). Students would have to car ride which burns more fossil fuel and not all parents have money for gas.
With busing it will gives students opportunities to go to school in areas with money. Students will have the opportunity to go to school with people who are unlike/different from them. Sending students to their applied school will raise test scores by putting them in their appropriate class. Busing provides equal opportunity in public education. Also it eliminates a lot of racism.

Busing stopping will cause a lot of history to most likely repeat itself. More schools will get over populated with children having to go to their neighborhood school. More states who stop busing will get more segregated. In neighborhoods more blacks live in a certain part than whites which would cause segregation. Students wouldn’t feel comfortable in a school mostly filled with just one race and will leave. Eventually residents in JCPS will get mad and busing would have to start again.

Sincerely,
JS