The FOR Survey: Issue Background, FOR Questions, and 2022 JCPS Board candidate responses for District 5

Candidate Background—District 5 Candidates

Name: Linda Duncan

EducationDuncan

Kentucky Leadership Academy, 1997-1998
University of Louisville, Rank I, Administration and Supervision, 1990
B.A., M.A., Secondary Education, University of Kentucky 1970, 1971
Chesapeake High School, Chesapeake, Ohio, 1966

Professional Experience/Service

District 5 representative on the Jefferson County School Board, 2006-2022. Chair of Policy Committee 2009-2021
Chair of Finance Committee 2006-2008, 2022
Vice Chair of JCBE 2010-2011
Assistant Principal Fairdale High School 1994-2004
Teacher, English, grades 9-12, Southern High School,1984-1994
Sponsor of Southern’s Key Club,1989-1994
Sponsor of the Southwind school newspaper,1989-1994
Teacher, English, grades 7-10, Fairdale Jr. High and Fairdale High School 1970-1981 and Girls Assistant Varsity and Junior Varsity basketball coach, 1976-1981
Department Chair, English, Fairdale Jr. High 1973-1975

She is endorsed by the JCTA (teachers) PAC BetterSchoolsKentucky  and is the current School Board member for District 1.

Campaign website:  none provided


Name: Gregory Puccetti

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Mr. Puccetti is endorsed by the parentchoice/parentvoice coalition: https://parentchoiceparentvoice.com/school-districts/jefferson-county/ [This website has been offline making updates. The Kentucky Tea Party supports this candidate. If the coalition website is not online again, you may find useful discussion of the candidate’s views from Tea Party websites or social media.]

Campaign website address: https://gregpuccetti.com/


Name: Matthew Singleton

Matt Singleton is pastor of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Leavenworth Indiana. However, Matt is aSingleton hometown boy, a lifelong resident of Jefferson County. He is the son of a retired JCPS Teacher and a graduate of Wellington elementary school and Valley HS. In 1995 Matt faced abuse in middle school. However, with the help of church and sports Matt recovered to successful HS career.

Matt got his Interdisciplinary degree at Boyce Bible College and his Masters of theology degree from Campbellsville University. Matt is taking an online program for a doctorate in Biblical Counseling. Matt has authored 5 books, as well as been the host or guest host for several radio, internet radio and local television programs. Matt has been a youth minister twice as well as a children’s minister. Matt works as a tutor at the way of wisdom learning center. 

Matt has been on the American family Association Education Committee and in spring was endorsed by Freedom’s Heritage Forum. `

Facebook: MJSingletonDist5 Schoolboard JCPS


Equity in academic outcomes

1.         Background:  For our community to prosper, JCPS must help develop in its graduates the skills and commitment to create a good life for their families and a just and peaceful community–one with dignity and opportunity for every human being, regardless of race, gender, economic status, ability, native language, etc.

JCPS consistently educates more than 80% of school-age children in Jefferson County.  That is a high percentage for urban areas our size around the US and is a vote of confidence in the value of JCPS’ efforts. Students of color and all students from low-income households make up three fourths of JCPS’ students.  Their average reading and math scores continue to lag significantly behind more privileged students on standardized state and national achievement tests. In some groups, the combined math and reading proficiency scores are half or less of those from more advantaged groups.

These standardized tests have their own serious flaws, but there is no doubt learning gaps exist.  JCPS has been and must continue looking for effective ways to help each student succeed to their potential.

Research demonstrates that early interventions–such as PreK-3rd grade literacy programs and intensive pre-school cognitive and socio-emotional learning–help eliminate learning gaps before they are entrenched. Smaller class sizes allow more personalized help for underperforming students. JCPS has such programs, but they are expensive and need community, state and federal support.

There are other initiatives being piloted in JCPS schools around math skills, literacy and other content areas.  Culturally-adapted curriculum in all subject areas engages more students. Magnet programs and the high school Academies of Louisville approach also increase engagement and passion for learning in students—both of which are critical to their academic growth.  Providing family resource supports and nutrition also helps many students to be able to come to school emotionally and physically more ready to concentrate on learning.

JCPS’ Future State plan looks for a major overall academic improvement as well as a reduction in outcome gaps by moving to a student-centered, “deep learning” approach. It focuses on teaching and frequent performance assessment of skills and dispositions for project-based learning and complex problem-solving tasks in a way tailored to an individual student’s culture and learning modes. 

These and other research-proven interventions and supports can help students and also save JCPS and other government/college budget dollars long term by avoiding the need for remedial help in future years.

 Question 1: What programs and/or other approaches would you champion/accelerate to close the persistent inter-group achievement/learning gaps?  How would you assess the effectiveness of those programs? How could JCPS better support individual students who struggle through authentic remedial help, not just prepping for and re-taking high-stakes testing? 

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

As a former educator, I know closing any achievement gap requires small class sizes, a skilled teacher, and insistence on teaching to high standards, offering examples of what quality work is so students see the target. These are the needed ingredients for helping students who are behind to catch up with more advantaged students.  We must require (through statute and funding for facilities and staff) that all kids attend preschool to give them an early understanding of language and continue to support their learning by providing tutoring when math processes, for example, are not clear to them.  I would look for progress in doing grade-level work and reaching mastery on standards-based mini-tests that don’t lose the attention of the learners.  Short assessments given often, with opportunities to correct mistakes and test again would be my approach.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

     We need a more accurate view of this situation. While the racial gap is unquestioned.  The goal of equity is irrelevant since both groups are failing! To only want equity would be failure. Our goal instead should be “success”.  It is a grave deception otherwise.  There is a positive example however, coming from Goose Rock elementary in Pike County. The school once down on these low levels changed their curriculum from the 20-30% range and in a year’s time rose to near 90%.
This change in curriculum brings hope not only to African American students but the whole County!

2.         Background:  Inter-group gap reduction is not simply a matter of increasing the learning growth rates of students in a demographic group. Gap reduction requires underserved groups of students to improve faster than more privileged demographic groups. If we want all groups’ performance to keep rising, we cannot “rob Peter to pay Paul” and succeed as a district.

Reductions in Federal and state funding (on inflation-adjusted basis) have worsened JCPS’ funding situation significantly.   Local occupational and property tax revenues account for the majority of General Fund revenues.

The current board unanimously passed a historic7 cent/$100 property value increase in property taxes above the nonrecallable 4% increase. The Board expressed its intent that the District will budget and spend revenues from this tax increase of approximately $54 million in fiscal year 2021-22 according to the Future State plan:


–At least $15 million for 21st century facilities that engage students and faculty;
–At least $15 million for resources in our highest-need schools;
–At least $12 million for racial equity initiatives; and
–At least $12 million for additional student instructional time

The current board has also approved using a school funding allocation approach used elsewhere with success that builds up school budgets by giving slightly higher amounts for each student based on four key factors: free and reduced lunch status (FRL), special needs, English language learners and mobility/homelessness. This is another step toward more equitable allocations, particularly to high-poverty schools.  It cannot, however, make up for continuing underfunding by the state and US governments.

Question 2:   Do you support this tax rate increase and the current board’s policy of intent on how to spend it?  How should it be allocated between teacher salaries, programs, and facilities? If you do not support it, how would you pay for the additional budgets for expanding research-based gap reduction initiatives that you are recommending? How would you pay for  the $1billion “plus” in bonding necessary for the facilities construction/renovation found to be needed over the next decade? 

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

I was not a fan of adding the extra nickel during a pandemic, but I knew we needed the extra nickel to feed the bonding capacity necessary to replace old facilities and build modern facilities best suited for how kids learn today.  I would support again how the money is to be allocated:  for staffing (more and stipends) and other supports to our highest-needs schools: new and upgraded facilities: extra supports for pursuing and ensuring racial equity: and money for extended learning time after school and in summers

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

Nope! Drop the taxes! Drop them massively! Why?  Because real estate is on the front end of the economy.  SO the economy is going to prosper when the real estate prospers.
The school facilities typically remain underutilized in economic product.  SO the only purpose in education.  But the academics is failing!!! IF the schools were educationally proficient they would have a better economy, since they have been at the wheel for decades. 

3.         Background:  Across the country, many high school history and social studies curricula present a limited version of U.S. history.  They often do not fully analyze difficult decisions and issues and may minimize both significant oppression of, and contributions from, minority populations. They can therefore be inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading. This makes the content less engaging for–and in some cases offensive to–different racial and ethnic group students in JCPS.  Students need to be challenged with uncomfortable facts to learn critical thinking—and compassion.   

Research shows that students respond and engage better when teaching is done in consideration of their cultural experience/background.

The 2022 session of the Kentucky legislature passed a bill (SB1) that, among other requirements, put forth a required social studies reading list and direction that instruction on controversial topics be “…nondiscriminatory, and respectful to the differing perspectives of students”.  It could produce a chilling effect on social studies teachers trying to help students learn critical thinking, sort out truth, and wrestle with what was good and what was bad.

Question 3: As a board member what would be your guidance on the social studies curriculum and textbook selection so that they would promote a broader discussion of diverse cultural heritage and contributions and a more balanced understanding and analysis of U.S. history?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

Curriculum choice is now up to the superintendent, and he is recommending we follow fact-based curriculum that is inclusive of all groups that have contributed to the culture of this nation.  I completely agree with students studying the factual history of this nation, the good and the bad, and including discussions of how “All men are created equal” has been an evolving, expanding concept for more and more identifiable groups.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

There are two axioms which must be addressed in the curriculum. A. facts above commentary. B. honor to America, if any commentary allowed.
A.  We need to look for facts like “George Washington was the first president, with his popularity, he could have opted for a monarchy.”
However a commentary may throw in statements.  “George Washington was the 4th member of the trinity!”  Or “George Washington was a racist hatemonger!” Could you say “Washington was a slave owner”?  Yes because this is simply a fact.
B.  American education’s objective is in the interest of its employers… Americans.

4.         Background:  Charter school enabling legislation passed in the 2017 Kentucky legislature.  The 2022 legislature passed HB9, which included a funding stream for public school charters based on per-pupil funding from Kentucky and Federal sources equivalent to that for other students in the public charter school’s district. HB9 also requires JCPS ‘ board to review and accept at least one charter school application by July 2023. 

The 2017 charter bill does not require charters to reduce inter-group learning gaps; it does not even require charters to outperform against equivalent student demographics in the regular schools of the District.

Question 4: Do you see a role for charter schools in increasing engagement and reducing inter-group learning gaps that is not currently met by JCPS pilot programs, its high school Academies of Louisville or magnet schools in  the district?  How would you measure charter success or failure compared to these current JCPS programs? Under what, if any, conditions would a charter school be acceptable to you?  Do you support state per pupil vouchers or tuition tax credit programs for students in private or parochial schools? If so, why?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

Under no circumstances do I see charter schools playing a positive role in improving student achievement.  They are exclusive by design, accepting a limited number of applicants, also accepting their state funding, holding those they accepted – those whose parents are engaged and savvy enough to complete applications, provide transportation, and cover food costs – holding them for six weeks before sending away those who cost more to educate:  the poor who need other services, the special needs kids who have federal class size limits among other extra needs, and those who need to learn English before they can absorb content.  Charter schools are in the education business to make money, so they must get rid of those students who cost them more to educate.

I do not support tax credits that allow kids to attend private schools because a) only the best-performing, best behaved students would be kept by the private schools, and b) the public schools would have to take in those rejected by the private schools without the funding that went to the private school, and c) tax credits send tax dollars to private schools instead of to public schools that are already underfunded and left to educate the students costing the most to educate.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

  Yes, Charter schools have been very successful in the focus of careers and industry.  This is effective education. I also would be willing to explore ways for charter schools and magnet schools to co-operate together.
In my mind, charter schools would be categorically different than other alternative schools as they would be secular. They could possibly be in public framework if they capable of keeping their principles.
In my mind the tax credit system should be reformed, not to eliminate section 189.  But be part of an apriori taxcut.

Experiencing and benefitting from diversity

5.         Background:  U.S. Census projections indicate that today’s JCPS graduates will live and work for most of their careers in an America where the majority of the population is nonwhite. Diversity in the workplace will be a given. Current housing patterns and zoning restrictions, however, make Metro Louisville by some estimates is one of the most segregated cities in the country.

JCPS’ student mix is already “majority minority” (or, “Global Majority”). This diversity can actually be an advantage for all JCPS students in that it prepares students—regardless of their race– for a successful and fulfilling life in a more diverse society and work environment.  This requires integrated classrooms, though, not just diversity in a school. Academic tracking, long a part of American education, will need to be reexamined if JCPS is to provide more integrated social and learning experiences and the resultant better understanding of different cultures.

Magnet, traditional and Academy of Louisville programs were instituted to provide opportunities to attract and engage students by blending career/interests and academic areas. However, they also were intended, in part, to help voluntarily increase diversity in the school system. Magnet Schools of America urges intentionally diverse student populations because their data show that students exposed to others’ different ways of learning and looking at problems helps all students be more effective and creative problem solvers.

Recently, the board passed a set of changes to the current student assignment plan.  It includes providing neighborhood school alternatives (“dual resides”) for about 6,000 West End students—mostly African American– who have for years carried virtually all the burden of nonvoluntary busing for diversity.  It also includes centralized magnet program lotteries and elimination of school-initiated exits for magnet students. 

Question 5: What are your views of the new assignment plan? What, if any, changes/improvements would you pursue for it, the magnet programs, and tracking in order to improvs outcomes for underserved students? How might JCPS provide more choices and opportunities for students of different backgrounds to study, work, and play together in welcoming, quality schools everywhere in the county? How would your proposals assure fairness to—and understanding by–all district students and families around equitably increasing access to programs that engage students and accelerate learning?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

I view positively the new school choice plan.  Until we try it, I see nothing to change.  There will be diversity in the suburbs because we have 14,000 English learners living all over the suburbs, including suburban African-American students.  All of the elementary schools in my district are close to 50% from other countries.

My hope is that the new magnet enrollment will pull in more disadvantaged kids who have an interest in the magnet theme, more deeply engaging those students so they may make bigger academic strides. The more magnets we create in west Louisville, the more chances students will have to choose a school matching their interests and talents, again increasing their engagement and consequent growth in reading and math scores.

Equitable access to magnets will be achieved by blind lotteries. 

Where west Louisville families choose west end schools, the enrollments will reflect the lack of diversity of the neighborhoods, but our primary duty is to help support these students in all ways possible so their achievement improves too meet grade-level standards.  Providing more experienced teachers incentivized to work there, smaller class sizes, and grade-level academic expectations and extended learning time have to take precedence over diversifying the student population.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

I think it looks good for the west end and it needs to be applied for all JCPS students. Dirt is not color and we live in a world with lots of color. Everyone needs locality in their education and opportunities for success in industry.

6.         Background:  National and JCPS research data show that learning and test scores increasingly suffer for low-income students when a school’s low-income (identified by free/reduced lunch—FRL– status) student population exceeds about 40% of the school’s total demographic.  More than 10% of our JCPS schools are over 90% FRL.  Our entire district student population is about two thirds FRL.

Question 6: How would you approach reducing or eliminating very high-poverty schools or resourcing them for success of all of their students?  What must happen, and where will the funds come from, to be truly student-centered on all the needs, barriers and gifts of these students?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

With a district poverty rate of almost 70%, there is no way to avoid high-poverty schools.  What we must do is incentivize highly-qualified staff to teach there and commit to remain there until they can be replaced by other highly-qualified staff.  Extra pay is only one incentive to attract skilled staff.  Small class sizes, tuition grants, and behavior support are also required so teachers can teach without disruptions and be able to contact parents/guardians for immediate support.  Parents must be expected to help on getting kids to school over 92% of the days, making sure assignments are completed, directing their kids to follow school and class rules, having them home and in bed at regular times, and seeing that their kids take advantage of summer learning experiences.

Funding for extra supports for high-poverty schools will come from the revenue generated by the extra five cents approved two years ago.  It may also come from shifting funds away from less-needy schools.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

 We eliminate poverty by growing our economy.  Also, we need to develop a data base for every form of church, psychological counseling, physical therapy, learning centers, boys and girls clubs, scouts etc.  Also, the government is causing inflation with it’s rapid spending we have to cut sending an all of us who are poor can testify!

Pro-active behavioral assessment, mental health professionals, and effective student-teacher relationships for a classroom climate for learning

7.         Background:  There are a variety of programs (e.g., PBIS, Restorative Practices, Compassionate Schools, Trauma Informed Care, etc.) at JCPS schools where—ideally– teams of teachers and counselors assess students and implement plans to avoid situations that give rise to behavioral problems for individual students.  Teachers are continually being trained to teach and model specific positive behaviors, to understand different cultures, to de-escalate, and to ask not “what is wrong with this child?”  but “What has happened to this child?”.

Much has indeed happened to our students–the isolation of COVID, increased violence in our community, and the stress and trauma of families living in poverty.  There are new efforts at increasing the numbers of social workers and mental health professionals in the schools.   Because of their limited numbers, though, they often are still called on to respond only after problems occur. Some of this support and healing work must include families, not just students.

Question 7: How can the schools provide professional, collaborative behavioral assessments of students at every school to help teachers understand and engage with students positively, before they are stigmatized by disciplinary consequences? What programs or staffing would you champion that would proactively identify students’ needs and provide support and models to build  appropriate self control, behaviors and sense of accountability?  How do we engage with and support parents around their students challenges inside and outside of school, as well as their learning and school choices?  How can student voice help direct this work?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

I would champion providing more than one mental health provider in schools with high numbers of students living under the stressors of poverty.  Students identified as behavioral risks from disciplinary records could be targeted for intervention by these health professionals.  Their teachers could be coached on how to avoid their triggers.  Their parents could also be included in building an intervention plan based on their knowledge of what causes them to over-react and how best to deal with their over-reactions.  The counselors could also be offering suggestions to their parents so the treatment at school could be the same at home.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

1.  Stop the insane disrespect to parents!!!!
2.  Never question the parents’ right to discipline their children, including corporal punishment!
3. Stop trespassing into unconstitutional indoctrination!  It’s illegal for the schools to be sectarian.  If we follow section 189 of the KY constitution all funding is effectively stripped from the school system.  If section 189 is repealed, we will see JCPS permanently marginalized without hope of recovery.  So either reform now or forget the public school system as we know it.
4. Get rid of the failed sex education which has contributed to the destruction of the nuclear family.

8.         Background:.JCPS’ first (2013) and subsequent “Equity Scorecard” reports have quantified the racial inequities in disciplinary outcomes, particularly in racially-disproportionate arrests and use of out-of-school suspensions. National research data show that out-of-school suspension is a key predictor of future low achievement, dropping out, delinquency, and incarceration. Just one suspension doubles the chance of dropping out. These inequities do not occur uniformly in every school across JCPS.  

National research also shows that out-of-school suspensions are ineffective at changing student behaviors.  Suspended students are more likely to repeat behaviors, and consequences, again. Suspensions accelerate declines in academic performance both because of the lost learning time and the disengagement from loss of a sense of belonging.

Suspensions are also expensive for JCPS—e.g., a loss of attendance-based funding and the cost of providing “alternative schools”.  While all that research is clear, though, some JCPS teachers (as indicated by national TELL surveys) feel they do not have all the skills and resources to maintain their classrooms without using out-of-school suspension for “crises”. 

Multiple or serious suspensions can lead to assignment to one of JCPS’ alternative schools.  Some of these schools have had precious little education going on.  At one alternative school, the student population is almost 60% African American and 40% special needs students.

Question 8: How can we simultaneously create a sense of belonging in safe and welcoming schools to reduce unwanted behaviors and to radically decrease use of out-of-school suspensions? How would you pay for the programs, training, etc.? How can we decrease the disproportionalities of alternative school placements, and, more generally, find ways to keep more students in all demographic groups in schools where they can develop their social skills and maintain their progress in learning?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

Reducing the behaviors that trigger the use of suspension is the beginning point for a discussion of reducing the need to separate offenders from their victims.  Some behaviors are so egregious there must be a way of getting the offender into a different setting.  When students observe violent behavior imposed on others, they, too, become victims of violence.  It is frightening for students to watch someone hurt someone else, and then for that offender show up in the next class as if nothing happened.  The same can be said for students who display guns at school.  That traumatizes everyone who experienced that threat.  Keeping that gun-toter in school as if nothing happened is frightening to the other students and should not happen.

I believe we need better-funded alternative schools where kids who hurt others or threaten others have access to professional counseling to reach root causes of why that student assaulted a staff member or was carrying a gun (and how he/she got it.). The violent offenders have the greatest need for one-on-one attention before academics are assigned.  Those with emotional issues or family stability issues or abuse issues must be served intensely in another setting in order to stabilize their behavior, after which their academic needs can be evaluated and addressed individually.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

Stop weighing in on social issues and trying to progressively redefine humanity! JCPS has scared off a lot of populations.  The Narcissist have to stop! Anyone who wants to kidnap children for castration will be thrown in jail! I have been informed of dozens of atrocities and what goes around comes around.
When JCPS practices the tolerance they preach there will be tons of people who will be willing to work with the system. Alternatives would include localize busing.  Consider adding an hour to class and having a four-day weekend, cutting all construction. Fundraisers, possibly projects through social media.

9.         Background: Armed, sworn officers (school safety officers–SSOs, school resource officers SROs) in schools have been shown to actually increase arrests and suspensions and decrease student sense of belonging, particularly for students of color.  Nationwide, they have not been found to effectively stop mass shootings in schools.

In response to previous state legislation, JCPS had previously proposed a “circuit rider” approach, where each officer drove around to several assigned schools but would not go inside the building unless specifically called in by the principal.

The 2022 Kentucky legislature passed legislation (HB63) that requires one armed police officer (SRO) fulltime onsite per school. The original compliance deadline was August 2022, but more than half of all KY schools—including JCPS–cannot comply, either because of costs or inability to find qualified candidates. The law requires that each district must inform the state’s Security Marshal why they can’t meet the deadline and work out a plan to accomplish it. Till then, the law directs districts to meet the goal on a “per school” basis. 

Question 9: Given the national research findings, do you support armed/sworn officers in JCPS schools? How would you respond to the state legislation? How can student voice help direct this work?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

As a former AP who had to take guns from students, I absolutely support our having our own police officers ready to stop an armed threat or an active shooter.  Nothing else can stop someone shooting at others.  These officers do not have to be walking the halls to be available to respond to an intruder or a student prepared to use a gun.  They do need to be steps away – not blocks away.  Right now we do not have enough armed officers to have them steps away.  It is my hope that we can attract enough retired, experienced officers to reduce even more the response time for an armed threat.  With officers available only to handle violent situations, not engaged in any of school discipline, arrests rates will continue to fall as they did last year.

The argument that officers don’t make schools safer is nonsensical.  When we had SRO’s in our buildings, how many guns were not brought in, or how many intruders did not go inside or how many armed parents did not show up because officers were in the buildings?  No one has a count of that.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

It is not ideal it should never be a permanent solution.  Yet it is better to survive with armed guards than die as a teenager.   I pray for peaceful outcomes and if our culture becomes a peaceful people then we can get this peace back in our schools.  I am open to alternative strategies if anyone desires to reach me. Thus far I have not been shown an alternative except for arming teachers.

Student privacy and the marketing of the military in JCPS

10.       Background:  Military leaders in the Pentagon enthusiastically confirm that JROTC is a valued recruiting tool for the Armed Services.  Because of the Pentagon’s financial resources, its marketing access and impact on students is far beyond that of colleges and trades programs.  The Pentagon has announced a goal of doubling the number of JROTC units countrywide by 2030.

JCPS data (2013) have shown that impact—its graduating cadets enlist at 15 times the rate of noncadet seniors. There is targeting of that impact, as well.  JCPS data also showed a disproportionate number of low-income and/or minority students are enrolled into JROTC.  

JROTC and cadet programs had claimed that they increase average cadet test scores and reduce disciplinary issues. However, analysis of JCPS data (Gainous report–2013) found no significant impact on average achievement outcomes, despite the fact that cadets who underachieve academically can be dropped from, or encouraged strongly to leave, the program.  

The JROTC classes generally displace Related Arts classes—arts, music, foreign languages, etc. Research has demonstrated these “related arts” help students achieve academically.

In many of the JROTC programs, there have been onsite shooting ranges for training at the high schools.

JROTC texts and curricula typically are not selected by the district.  Nationally, they have been shown to present US history from a very skewed vantage point.

 Question 10: What would you do as a board member to make sure that JCPS students and parents have objective, balanced information to make evidence-based decisions about the presence of and participation in JROTC/cadet programs in JCPS? How would you evaluate the value of existing or potentially new  JROTC units in place of Related Arts offerings such as foreign languages, arts and music programs? Would you require curriculum review or cessation of onsite shooting ranges?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

I have seen the great value of having JROTC on campuses.  Those who sign up for that pathway are inspired by its emphasis on physical fitness, self-discipline, teamwork skill-building, its public service theme, and its commitment to valuing the preservation of this country.  Virtual shooting ranges have replaced actual shooting ranges.  Virtual tank operation has broadened the training experience for cadets.  At this point, there is no industry certification for students who choose to enroll in JROTC, so enrollment has dwindled.  For students interested in military service, JROTC gives them a reason to come to school, so I support that interest.  All parents have a form they can sign denying recruiters access to their students’ personal information.  I do not see a problem and have never had a complaint from a parent about this issue. 

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

  My position on ROTC would be centrist.  There are positive experiences people have received through the ROTC programs and later military service.  However, a military obsession often does lead to abuse and we want to recognize that.  But pacifism is only profitable voluntarily.  You cannot force peace. People need peace in their hearts through faith.  I see them as a legitimate superlative as well as the arts.  A pacifist club or program is worthy of future dialogue.

Preparation for post-graduation success 

11.       Background: We need more academic success from all students, whether their dreams and dispositions make them college or career bound. 

 The US Department of Labor says that as of 2020, two thirds of all jobs  will require some post-secondary education, be it college or career training. Readiness for either college or career requires sufficient academic success to succeed in entry-level post-secondary learning settings without remediation. We have historically set up a divide between college and career which is less meaningful—and potentially discriminatory—today.

Question 11: How would you design annual metrics, assessments and resource budgeting that would   lead to more equitable resources for struggling students early in their school careers so that the students might reach their full academic potential while developing skills and competitiveness in their initial career choices?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

Early Childhood experiences must become a focus of this district if we are going to improve reading and math skills.  In order to create the expanded opportunity for our early learners, the Legislature must pass a law requiring universal preschool for all students.  This likewise would require the funding for facilities and staffing.  Parents must not be able to choose to keep their kids out of preschool.  As long as they can do that, and as long as we do not have the funding to support universal preschool, there will be inequitable access to early learning.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

  I don’t see the assessments as a problem as much as the results of the assessments.  The problem is the neighborhoods when it comes to the struggles.  But JCPS can help this situation with tax cuts and efficient Job training.

Management of major facilities and staffing priorities  

12.       Background:  Two thirds of JCPS students come from families with limited incomes.  They do not live in the fastest-growing part of the county.

JCPS facilities practice has been summarized as to “…build where the population growth is”.  This approach supported the construction and opening of a new elementary school in the East End a few years ago, while many West and South End schools are significantly below optimal capacity. Recent plans already underway call for a new middle school in the east end, while consolidating six West/South End elementary schools into three.  Given the housing segregation in Metro Louisville, this will lead to less voluntary diversity in our schools.  It also may be poor stewardship of useable buildings, JCPS bonding capacity, and tax dollars. 

Magnets Schools of America guidelines urge that magnet schools be located in the urban core, with efforts to increase diversity in these schools in particular.

Question 12: What is your vision of an effective, equitable set of criteria for prioritizing capital spending between construction of new schools and major renovations/replacement to existing schools?  What criteria would you use to locate new construction?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

My vision of capital construction is to target west Louisville first with new construction and renovations of present properties so that our new school choice plan can offer up-to-date facilities that will support dual resides.  We are in the process of building new schools and magnet schools for west Louisville, along with adding another after-school learning center.  I am hopeful we can offer creative renovations that will serve smaller school populations in many buildings.  Without new bonding capacity, we should also be able to replace some of our suburban schools at the same time.  I am satisfied with the breakdown of how we will spend the extra five cents.  We want west Louisville schools to have the extra resources those families deserve if they do choose closer schools.  We are committed to improving math and reading skills to look more like the math and reading skills of kids who do not live in poverty.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

1. The construction is a waste of money.  If we stop new construction the neighborhoods can get renovated and grow in value. Afterwards there will be a higher tax revenue. 2.  Alternative schools can take up the bulk of students.  They already have facilities that can adjust to new growth.  They also have staff, which can make up for the lack of teachers and bus drivers. 3. One area need to address is that JCPS is funding other counties. We need that fund back.  This funding should be restored our schools and help in renovating. 

13.       Background:  Teachers are at the front lines of educating Jefferson County’s future workers and leaders. The teachers’ pay scale increases have not matched inflation.  At the same time, nationally and locally there is a teacher shortage.  JCPS has had trouble filling new positions and retaining teachers.  Teachers just received a significant raise, along with incentive bonuses for those excited to work in our highest poverty schools. 

Research confirms that students of color are much more likely to go to college if they have had a teacher who looks like them.  Currently, less than 20% of JCPS teachers are people of color. The student body is over 50% people of color.

Question 13: What will you do as a school board member to ensure that:1) teacher/pupil ratios are adequate to ensure that every student receives the individual attention they need; and (2) teacher pay scales and working conditions allow us to attract and retain the best possible, diverse classroom teaching team?  What can be done to quickly develop and add more staff who look like our student body demographics?

District 5 Candidate Answers:

Linda Duncan—District 5

The teacher shortage is a national problem.  We must pay competitive salaries to attract staff, but we also must follow through on finding the support students need for mental health issues because we are losing good staff to bad behavior.  We can’t hope to keep staff if we can’t stop students from being abusive to teachers and others like bus drivers.  We must meet with parents and share the behaviors our teachers are forced to endure and seek guidance about how they want us to respond.  First, there must be respect and order before there can be teaching and learning.

Second, I wish we would quit pulling minority teachers out of the classrooms as soon as an admin position opens to which they can escape.  We have some great minority teachers who could better help us in the classroom than as an administrator.

Third, we need to recruit in urban areas where teachers are being over-staffed.  With our salaries, we should be able to draw those minority teachers, not just black teachers, to our schools.  Remember, we are only 36% black.

Fourth, we need to recruit teachers who enjoy the calmness of virtual classrooms.  I think there is a rich pool of retired teachers who might come back.

Gregory Puccetti—District 5

Mr. Puccetti did not respond to the questionnaire.

Matthew Singleton—District 5

We need to establish a working relationship with learning centers designed for individual attention.  We could have an alternative where students could opt for evenings instead 1st shift. This could provide smaller class sizes, as well as those who may desire education through zoom technology.