Education

The Jefferson County school board has voted unanimously to approve a new teachers’ union contract.

Members of the Jefferson County Teachers Association had previously approved the five-year agreement. It will end June 30, 2023. 

Provisions include a one percent raise over the first two years of the contract. The agreement also expands the definition of enhanced support schools, previously known as priority schools.

According to JCTA, renaming and expanding the definition allows for greater support for students and teachers in these schools.

“We’re really proud about what the contract does to help our students in our most struggling schools,” said JCTA president Brent McKim after the board’s vote.

The agreement includes increased benefits to teachers in enhanced support schools, including five additional paid days for professional development and a stipend of $1,000 for teachers who transfer to the schools.

“There were some proposals to increase class sizes that we drew a line in the sand and said that’s not good for kids,” McKim said about the negotiation process. “And in the end we did not have any of the class sizes raised so we felt really good about that.”

Other provisions include professional development related to the seclusion and restraint of students. This provision is in response to the findings of an audit handed down in April by Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis. The audit showed the district underreports instances of restraint and seclusion.

The previous teachers’ contract expired June 30, approximately two months after Commissioner Lewis delivered his recommendation for state management of JCPS. As far as the teachers’ union, JCTA negotiates with representatives of the school board. If an agreement wasn’t reached before a potential state takeover, JCTA may have found itself negotiating with representatives with the state instead.

“I think teachers are relieved to have a contract,” said McKim. “Even if there were no state takeover they’re relieved to have [a contract] before school starts.”

According to McKim, there are approximately 5,800 members in JCTA. Jefferson County Public Schools, Kentucky’s largest school district, has more than 6,500 teachers.

The next move is for the contract to be signed by board chair Diane Porter, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio and McKim.

You can read  the 93-page agreement here.