Jefferson County Public Schools are closed on Friday, April 13. JCPS officials made the announcement Thursday afternoon citing more than 2,500 teacher absences.
Dozens of other school districts in the state have also canceled Friday classes in anticipation of teacher protests at the state Capitol as lawmakers return to Frankfort for the final two days of this year’s legislative session.
Teachers and other public education advocates are calling on state lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the two-year state budget and tax overhaul bills — measures that set aside more funds for public education than Bevin’s proposed budget did.
Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, urged teachers this week to take a personal day and head to the Capitol on Friday.
“If we don’t override this veto,” he said, “public education is going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars and there will be terrible cuts to services that will harm kids.”
McKim said he expects thousands of teachers to show up at the Capitol Friday.
“It’s because we care about our students that many teachers are planning to be in Frankfort,” McKim said. “Because they know cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from public education will lead to cuts that harm kids not just one day. But day after day after year after year. And that is not acceptable.”
Fayette County Schools, Kentucky’s second largest school district, is also closed Friday.
On Thursday some schools, including duPont Manual and Noe Middle School, held walk-ins. Participants rallied at Cardinal and Second streets before starting classes at 7:40 a.m. Lincoln Elementary also held a walk-in in the NuLu/Phoenix Hill Thursday morning.
Chris Applegate, a physics and math teacher, helped organized the walk-in at duPont Manual. He said some of the teachers felt the protest wasn’t enough.
“It’s a really soft action,” said Applegate. “We’re showing up to work early and then we’re walking into work on time.”
He said some wanted a stronger action. “They want a work stoppage,” Applegate said.
Earlier this week, Bevin said it would be “irresponsible” for teachers to strike. However, in Kentucky, teachers are not allowed to strike.
Brent McKim with JCTA said teachers are hopeful that state lawmakers will override the governor’s vetoes “because it is the right thing to do for the students of the Commonwealth.”
“In the long-term, it’s the right thing to do for the state of Kentucky,” he said.