Rebutting JCPS arguments for the tax hike:
1. Taxes are an investment; education is worth it.
Property taxes are money that people are forced to pay if they don’t want to lose their property. Investments are made voluntarily, and the investor decides how much he wants to invest and where he wants to invest. There is a big difference.
JCPS outcomes are not worth the high price we are paying. In 2018-19, JCPS spent $17,382 per pupil, as compared with Fayette County at $12,165, Oldham County at $11,180, and Nashville TN at $11,077. Outcomes have not improved despite huge increases in spending.
This article in the Chicago Tribune describes how huge amounts of money were spent on education in Kansas City, with no benefit in outcomes. The conclusion was, “in the absence of drastic reforms, more spending just means more waste.” We have the same problem in Jefferson County. Throwing more money at them will just waste more money. We need reforms, not more spending.
If our education taxes are considered to be an investment, we are getting a horrible return on that investment!
2. JCPS is unique. It is without comparison.
See the above comparisons to Fayette County, Oldham County and Nashville TN.
3. It is short-sighted and inequitable to just demand that students from the West End no longer be allowed to attend schools outside of their zip code.
This is a strawman argument. Nobody is saying students from the West End should not be allowed to attend schools outside of their zip code if there are programs they want in those schools. We are saying they should not be forced to be bused across town if they don’t want to be. Many students are bullied and beaten up on the bus and arrive at school so stressed that they are in no shape to learn. Most families would prefer that their children go to a high quality school near home. That opportunity should be afforded to students in every part of Jefferson County. The fact that JCPS has deprived many West End students of that opportunity is shameful.
JCPS says it needs $15 million per year in additional taxes to build new schools, including new schools in the West End. Even if the current tax hike is voted down, JCPS still will receive a 4% increase, of at least $22.1 million per year, which is sufficient to build new schools and maintain existing schools.
4. There are some wealthy business people in our community who are urging people to vote for the tax hike, saying it is not much money, and it is needed to improve the schools.
We have heard that argument many times before. JCPS repeatedly has promised that it will improve if it gets more money. It repeatedly gets more money, but it never improves. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. JCPS needs real reform that requires leadership, not more money.
If wealthy business people in our community want to voluntarily give their own money to JCPS while demanding real reform and real improvement in educational outcomes, they may have enough clout to make it happen. But when these wealthy business people use their money and influence to try to impose higher taxes on people who are struggling with job losses from COVID shutdowns and struggling with other financial problems, they are exhibiting a serious lack of compassion for the suffering caused by higher taxes and by the failure of JCPS to do its job properly. Instead of causing more suffering in our community, they should be demanding that JCPS do its job and give tax payers their money’s worth for the money already being spent.
For the 2018-19 school year, JCPS spent $17,382 per student, as compared with $12,165 for Fayette County ($5,217 less than JCPS), $11,180 for Oldham County ($6,202 less than JCPS), and $11,077 for Nashville TN ($6,305 less than JCPS). The JCPS budget is more than twice the budget for the entire government of Metro Louisville! The problem is not a lack of money. It is a lack of leadership.