Thousands expected to 'walk in' at JCPS schools next week
Thousands of JCPS employees and supporters are expected to stage a “walk-in” before school on Tuesday through Thursday next week to protest recommendations that would loosen the district's code of conduct and freeze salaries.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Thousands of Jefferson County Public Schools employees and students are expected to stage a “walk-in” before school on Tuesday through Thursday next week to protest recommendations that would loosen the district's code of conduct and freeze salaries.
As of Friday afternoon, seven schools had scheduled walk-ins to "show their solidarity." Teachers, staff members and other supporters will meet outside the their buildings before about an hour before classes begin and walk in together.
The walk-ins were discussed during Thursday's emergency meeting of the Jefferson County Teachers Association's organizing committee, but officials with three of the other unions who represent the district's employees tell WDRB News they will participate.
"We are professionals," said Tammy Berlin, vice-president of JCTA. "We love our schools, we love our students. We are choosing to walk in instead of walk out."
In addition, the unions are urging all of their employees to wear red Monday to show their support for education. JCTA has been encouraging the use of the social media hashtag #WearRed4PublicEd.
Johnny Stribling, a teacher at Butler High, said his school's walk-in is scheduled for 7 a.m. on Wednesday. He says all teachers will gather outside the school's marquee on Crums Lane to "show our solidarity."
"We have to protect our schools and our students," Stribling said. "If the district approves this code of conduct, it will mean less discipline and more problems in our classrooms."
Earlier this week, the district recommended loosening its student Code of Conduct policies to reduce punishments for some offenses that would typically remove thousands of students from class each year.
And then on Tuesday, district officials released results of a long-awaited comprehensive salary study, which said JCPS is paying its employees more money than comparable districts.
The Jefferson County Board of Education will be asked on May 10 to approve a recommendation that there be no step or cost of living increase in 2016-17 for all employees earning more than $14 an hour. In addition, the district will seek authorization from the board to negotiate a percentage increase for all employees earning less than $14 an hour in 2016-17.
Hundreds of teachers attended Thursday's JCTA meeting, Breslin said they represented 85 of the district's 155 schools.
In addition to Butler, the following schools have invited WDRB to their walk-ins next week: Moore Traditional School and Olmsted Academy South (7 a.m. Tuesday), Dixie Elementary School (8 a.m. Tuesday), Atherton High School, Ramsey Middle School and Meyzeek Middle School (7 a.m. Wednesday) and Blue Lick Elementary (8 a.m. Thursday).
Berlin said she is compiling a list of schools and their scheduled walk-ins and will release those to the media over the weekend.
Aside from the walk-ins and encouraging employees to wear red Monday, union representatives tell WDRB they are encouraging all of their members to attend the JCPS school board meeting on May 10.
"We will be there," said John Stovall, president of Teamsters Local 783, a union that represents about 1,000 bus drivers.
Bo Johnson with the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said his organization has been fighting for better wages for its members, which include instructional aids, lunchroom assistants, school secretaries and bus monitors.
"It is our contention that painting all workers with the brush of a single study is unfair and inaccurate," Johnson said. "Management hiding behind a narrow portion of a wage study is not bargaining in good faith. We ask that this practice of smoke screens and distraction stop and we get to honest concerted bargaining."
Johnson said AFSCME members will also attend the meeting on May 10.
JCPS students also appear to be supporting their teachers and other staff members by planning to wear read on Monday and attend the walk-ins at their schools.
Everyone wear red on Monday to protest the new JCPS policy!!!— hannah (@hannerluvskandi) April 29, 2016
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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