LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said legislation that would break up Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is not a "back burner issue." 

What You Need To Know

  • Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said legislation to break up JCPS is not a "back burner issue" 

  • JCPS issued strong pushback against breaking up the district into several smaller ones

  • Former lawmaker and JCPS alumna Attica Scott opposed the idea 

  • State Sen. David Yates, D-Jefferson County, said he cautions of a dismantling and private interest takeover of public schooling

Stivers made this statement Tuesday during the first day of Kentucky's 2024 Legislative Session. His remarks are now getting pushback from Kentucky's largest school district and former lawmaker Attica Scott.

Scott, who is just a few years removed from her time in office, is still involved in school issues. She said the idea of breaking up JCPS is a bad idea, even with the district's troubled rollout of new bus routes and staggered start times.

Missed drop-offs and hour-long delays tainted the opening week of JCPS' school year, even leading to several days of canceled classes while the district and its drivers retooled its bus operation.

“Republicans use that as an excuse to say, 'Our solution is to break JCPS into four districts,'" Scott said. "It’s a ridiculous idea. I hope that it doesn’t happen." 

Scott put two children through JCPS and is an alumna herself. She was also a member of the education committee during her time in state office. Breaking up the district would have consequences on West End schools in particular, she said. 

“We know the reality is we don’t have the money to supplement our schools, so that’s one of the reasons why many of the parents in the West End of Louisville support busing as an option for their students," she said. 

JCPS provided this statement Tuesday which reads in part, “Splitting JCPS would not solve any of the difficult, complicated issues the District, its employees, students, and family members are facing. In fact, splitting JCPS into multiple districts would be the most disruptive thing to do to this community, and students in high poverty areas would suffer more than anyone else.”

The statement continues, "Splitting JCPS into multiple school districts would fragment resources, hinder educational consistency, and exacerbate inequalities, ultimately undermining the cohesive community support, robust academic programs, and stability the district provides for students, families, and the community at large." 

State Sen. David Yates, D-Jefferson County, said he cautions of a dismantling and private interest takeover of public schooling.

“I believe with JCPS, there is room for improvement," Yates said. "I do not think by busting up this district, by splitting it up or siphoning the money away for private entities for personal gain is the way to go.

"It almost tends to say it's feeding into the idea we’re going to talk about how bad it is, bust it up and then allow these private entities to come into Kentucky and siphon taxpayer dollars out." 

Yates said it "may" be possible to break up a school district with legislation, albeit a difficult one, legally. Following the issues with JCPS' transportation in August, State Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, posted an open letter on X (formerly known as Twitter). It said lawmakers would call for a commission to evaluate splitting up JCPS, and with nearly 100,000 students and 165 schools, the district is too large to manage.