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October 26, 2018 2:50pm

School board candidates share their visions for JCPS at GLI forum

Candidates for the Jefferson County Board of Education shared their visions for the future of JCPS at a candidate forum hosted by GLI and presented by KentuckyOne Health on Wednesday night. The forum touched on a wide range of critical issues, including student achievement gaps, charter schools, facilities improvement, taxes, and even the recent settlement between JCPS and the Kentucky Department of Education.

The forum gave candidates an opportunity to express their views of these issues and more but also gave members of the Greater Louisville business community a chance to meet the individuals who could soon be making decisions impacting the future of education and workforce development in Jefferson County – two areas of key concern to regional employers. As GLI Chief Operating Officer Sarah Davasher-Wisdom said in her opening remarks, “The local workforce is our economic potential. Children are quite literally the future and we need to make sure that all of them have the best education possible to be successful in the 21st century economy.”

Four candidates participated in the event:

  • James Craig, District 3
  • Derek Guy, District 3
  • Waymen Eddings, District 6
  • Corrie Shull, District 6

GLI invited all Jefferson County school board candidates to the event. Candidates who were unable to participate included Jenny Benner in District 3 and Nicole Aghaliandastjerdi and Angela Smith in District 6. In addition, JCPS Board Chair Diane Porter is running unopposed for re-election to District 1, and JCPS Board Member Linda Duncan is running unopposed for re- election to District 5.

In the first round of questions, each candidate addressed a different topic. James Craig from District 3 discussed the possibility of future property tax increases in Jefferson County, stressing the need for new revenues for facilities improvements and construction and adding that more funds from Frankfort are necessary.

Waymen Eddings from District 6 responded to a question about how charter schools could fit into the current public education landscape, saying that while charter schools are not a “panacea” to all of the county’s education problems they could drive innovation and fill numerous gaps, especially in a district as large as JCPS.

Derek Guy from District 3 fielded a question on teacher compensation. When asked if factors such as performance or subject matter should be considered in determining teacher salaries, Guy stated that he opposed factoring performance into compensation but supported a recent policy to offer financial incentives to teachers working in underperforming schools.

Corrie Shull from District 6 discussed transportation routes for bus-riders and what the district might do to improve students’ ride times. He stated that for many students ride times on a bus keep students safe and out of trouble since they are under adult supervision. He also said that not all bus-riders face long ride times throughout the district.

In the second and third rounds of the forum, each candidate responded to the same question. In round two, candidates were asked: “If you had been a member of the Board during this summer, how would you have voted on the settlement with the state department of education?”

Craig and Eddings both said they would have voted yes on the settlement. Craig noted that he was ultimately in favor of local control, while Eddings stated that collaboration between Frankfort and Jefferson County should be welcomed. Guy said he would have voted no on the settlement and that the board should have fought against it. Shull chose to reserve comment and said that he did not have all the information behind what went into the settlement discussions.

In the final round, candidates commented on where they wanted to see JCPS at the end of their first term (if elected). Shull stressed issues such as racial equity, early childhood education, and more incentives to attract and retain teachers, especially from underrepresented groups. Eddings hoped to see innovative charter schools, improved facilities, and increased community and parental involvement in schools. Guy envisioned more diversity on the Board, more mental health treatment options for students, and expanded free-lunch programs. Craig pointed to full implementation of the settlement with the state, policies to address findings in the state audit, early childhood education, and a more positive image of JCPS.

Candidates closed out the night by talking about their backgrounds and making the case for why voters should choose them in November.

GLI has long been active on education issues and policy, and the JCPS candidate forum represents just one of many ways in which the Greater Louisville business community has been engaged in improving education and workforce development in our region. Special thanks to the forum’s sponsors: KentuckyOne Health, Beam Suntory, Babbage Cofounder, and Louisville Regional Airport Authority.

Election day is November 6. Go vote! Find your polling place and get more information on the election here.