Kentucky has assessed the learning environments of 76 Jefferson County public schools and hundreds more across the state.
The Department of Education categorizes schools on a scale of one through five to measure their condition. Last year lawmakers called for a more detailed assessment to measure category three and four schools (generally buildings 20-40 years old). KDE contracted with outside company Pearson Commercial Technology Group, which visited 477 school buildings that house 485 instructional programs.
“They looked at the school’s actual physical condition. They looked at its educational suitability, which means does it provide the things that students need to have a really robust learning experience. And they also looked at technology readiness, whether or not a school building was wired for Internet and e-mail access, does it have wireless capability,” said KDE spokeswoman Lisa Gross.
Each school was rated and given an estimate for updating the school based on national averages. In some cases schools like Southern High School need nearly $60 million in upgrades.
The data shows JCPS would need around $900 million in renovations to comply with state standards. But Gross said districts aren’t expected to fix schools overnight. The report is used to prioritize funding decisions in the future, she said.
“It provides the General Assembly with data that can be used when they’re allocating funding for school facilities. It also provides local school officials with a way to prioritize their needs in the area of school facilities,” Gross said.
The report shows $3.7 billion is needed to restore all the Kentucky public schools that were assessed. That represents almost the entire public school budget for the year, said Gross.