Audit finds no culture of corruption in Jefferson Co. schools but a lot of $100K administrators

05/21/2014 01:36 PM

Jefferson County Public Schools have far more administrators making $100,000 or more than comparable districts and spend a smaller share of money in the classroom than those districts whose students have higher test scores, a state audit report found.

Auditor Adam Edelen unveiled the more than year-long review of Kentucky’s largest school district that has a budget of $1.2 billion.

The good news, he said at a press conference Wednesday, was that his auditors did not find “a culture of corruption” that created problems in other school districts and other organizations that have been the subject of recent special audits.

But Edelen’s auditors compared JCPS to five other districts of similar size that serve as benchmarks given their higher student performance scores. They include Baltimore County Public Schools, Austin Independent School District in Texas, Charlott-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, Cobb County School District in Georgia and Pinellas County Schools in Florida.

Compared to those districts, Jefferson County spends the smallest portion on classroom instruction and has the highest percentage administrative and operations spending.

And with more than 150 administrators in JCPS’s central office making $100,000 or more, Jefferson County has three times the number of six-figure administrators than Charlotte.

Edelen’s audit report outlined 45 different findings, including 16 regarding information technology and security, and 200 specific recommendations.

Edelen outlined his expectations for what the school board should do to improve its oversight of the $1.2 billion district, including adding two more board members to the seven-person panel:

JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said her staff will submit a plan to the board within 60 days to start making changes to the system. She said some of the suggested changes are in the works.

Here’s what she said about cutting down the number of administrators with six-figure salaries:

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday issued a lengthy statement applauding the audit and outlining his specific concerns.

“It would appear that staffing and funding priorities are out of alignment with the educational instruction of JCPS students,” Holliday said. “…It is imperative that the Jefferson County Public Schools operate with the utmost efficiency and transparency with every dollar possible going toward classroom instruction, especially with the large achievement gaps that exist between various student groups in the district and the number of low performing schools.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.