LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky's largest public school districts closed Friday due to widespread absences among teachers angered by the Legislature's passage of a pension overhaul.
Students in Louisville and Lexington are affected as at least 12 Kentucky school districts have had to close schools due to employee absences including Jefferson, Oldham, Fayette, Boyle, Carroll and Marion Counties.
Jefferson County Public Schools made the decision early Friday to close schools. Officials said they couldn't get enough substitutes.
In a statement, JCPS Spokesman Daniel Kemp tells WDRB that "As of 4:45 this morning when the decision was made to cancel class, we had approximately 1,270 teacher absences and anticipated several hundred more. We had approximately 123 schools with unfilled classrooms as of that time. Additionally, as of that time, we had around 20 schools with double-digit teacher absences."
According to the JCPS website, the district employs about 6,600 teachers. So about 20 percent of teachers called out on Friday.
JCPS also added a day to the school year to make up for the day off on March 30. The last day of school will be May 31, and all high school graduation dates have been pushed back.
IMPORTANT: The make-up day for today will be Thursday, May 31, 2018, which is now our last day of school. Our high school graduation schedule has also been pushed back one day. Details --> https://t.co/QEYdOUG5Jh pic.twitter.com/NZpdhKZbi3— JCPS (@JCPSKY) March 30, 2018
In Oldham County, spokesperson Lori McDowell says 204 of the district's 728 teachers on staff called out sick. This will mean an additional make-up day for Students on Friday, June 8, but it will not change graduation.
In Fayette County which includes much of Lexington, officials said more than a third of school employees were staying home.
The Kentucky Education Association calls it a "shameful" bill that was swiftly and narrowly approved by the Republican-led Legislature without a hearing or chance to comment on the final version.
The Jefferson County Teachers Association tweeted a message from KEA Friday afternoon.
Below is a message from KEA President Stephanie Winkler:— JCTA (@JCTAKY) March 30, 2018
It should not surprise anyone that educators are angry today.
Despite months of uncertainty about our financial... https://t.co/My5047Afze
Gov. Matt Bevin supports the bill and tweeted Thursday night that public workers owe "a deep debt of gratitude" to the lawmakers who voted in favor.
Tonight 49 members of the Kentucky House and 22 members of the Kentucky Senate voted not to keep kicking the pension problem down the road— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) March 30, 2018
Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing
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