LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - "Under funded teachers, spending money out of their own pocket, to educate Jefferson County students," that was one of the headlines of a 260 page audit of the Jefferson County Public School system released by state auditor Adam Edelen. Now, some teachers are questioning those findings.
All of this came about because of a survey the auditor sent to teachers. The auditor seemed outraged at how many teachers who said they were spending personal funds to buy classroom supplies.
Even more surprised to hear that? Some of the teachers themselves.
There's no shortage of ways to learn in Diana Gallas kindergarten class at Lincoln Performing Arts Elementary.
"Anytime I've ever needed anything if I went to my administrators, they gave it to me," Galla said.
Gallas experience is in stark contrast to the findings of Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen. As part of a 260 page audit his investigators surveyed about 1,100 of the roughly 6,400 full time JCPS teachers. 93 percent of them said they spent their own money for the classroom. About 37 percent said they did so not because they wanted to, but because of lack of money from the district.
"Most spent hundreds of dollars a year," Edelen said during a press conference releasing the findings. "Folks a teacher should have the prerogative to use personal resources in the classroom, but no teacher should feel obligated because they have a lack of funding."
Especially troubling, Edelen said, in light of his audit finding a central office filled with highly paid administrators that Edelen said is sucking millions away from the classroom.
Edelen said teachers also complained of a wasteful and inefficient warehouse school supply distribution system. One filled with so much red tape and delays, teachers find it easier to just to buy their own supplies.
LPAS Principal Susan French said the warehouse system is not fast, but it is manageable.
"If you plan ahead of time, the process will work," French said.
Principal Susan French said at LPAS, if there's not time to get something through the JCPS warehouse, each classroom has a $500 stipend to cover last minute supplies. That's school policy not a district one so that number could be different at every school.
At LPAS there's even $100 rainy day fund provided to each classroom by the PTA.
"Teachers do receive adequate money for their classrooms," French said. "Obviously there is never enough money. You would always wish for more or want more."
Brent McKim, president of Jefferson County Teachers Association, which is the teachers union, said the problem of teachers paying for school supplies is a real one. So common teachers get a tax deduction for school supplies they buy.
In Ms. Gallas class, anything out of her pocket, is money well spent.
"The little things that they get makes their day," she said.
According to the audit, on average JCPS teachers spend less on classroom supplies, and get more of a stipend for things they want, than their state and national counterparts. Still the auditor wants JCPS to do a review of how they budget and assign classroom stipends for teachers.
JCPS says it is still reviewing the auditors findings to determine next steps.
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