Superintendent responds to teacher protests after JCPS proposes changes
More than 100 schools in the district have walk-ins planned this week. The fight is over proposed changes to the code of conduct and employee salaries.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More than 100 schools in the district have walk-ins planned this week.
The fight is over proposed changes to the code of conduct and employee salaries.
And as Teacher Appreciation week begins, JCPS teachers kicked off a week of protests at schools across the district.
"I understand they're saying stand up for public education," Superintendent Donna Hargens said. "That is really important."
The rift is over two proposed changes.
One could potentially alter the student code of conduct and lessen punishments for some offenses.
"It's at the point now that pretty much the discipline ... there is none," said John Stovall, the Teamsters Local 783 President.
While teachers and other employees say they're concerned about safety, Hargens says the changes could make things better in the classroom.
"The code of conduct is one part of a behavior management system, a support system and that we're working very hard to provide the supports that teachers need in schools so that they can spend their time on teaching," she said.
The other problem has to do with pay.
District leaders recently announced a possible salary freeze for employees making more than $14 an hour.
But Hargens says the salary study that prompted the proposed freeze shows the district has competitive teacher salaries.
"That's very affirming so I think the district should be proud," Hargens explained.
"We have a common concern that proposing a pay freeze without bargaining violates the district's contracts with all of us," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association.
Union leaders say they've formed an alliance and more walk-in protests are planned for this week.
They also plan to bring their concerns to the next school board meeting on May 10.
"This is not just about the employee groups coming together," McKim said. "It's about the community coming together to say we need well-staffed schools that are safe and orderly."
The board was scheduled to take up the pay freeze recommendation at the May 10th meeting, but a district spokeswoman told WDRB that it will now not be on the agenda.
The board has to approve the budget by the end of the month.
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