Teacher absences force Kentucky school districts to call off cla - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Teacher absences force Kentucky school districts to call off classes

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Thousands of teachers called in sick on Friday, March 30th after a pension bill passed in Frankfort. Thousands of teachers called in sick on Friday, March 30th after a pension bill passed in Frankfort.

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.

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. 

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.

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