KEA teachers in Louisville for annual assembly continue to urge Gov. Bevin to veto pension bill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As Senate Bill 151 involving teacher pensions is waiting for a signature on Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk, hundreds of teachers are meeting in Louisville.

The Kentucky Education Association’s annual delegate assembly is meeting at the Marriott in downtown Louisville through Friday night. More than 700 educators from all 173 Kentucky school districts are at the assembly, which is a gathering to focus on the next school year. But teachers are focused on what is going on now in Frankfort.

“We have a lot of priorities we have to think about and work on, especially with the current political climate,” said Kumar Rashad, a JCPS high school teacher. “The freezing the sick days and putting the new hires into a different plan ... those two I can’t tolerate that.”

Many of the teachers are urging Bevin to veto the passed legislation that would move future teachers into a hybrid cash balance retirement plan. It would combine aspects of defined-benefit pensions and defined-contribution accounts, cap sick days and not allow that leave time to count toward retirement eligibility.

School for JCPS students resumes after spring break on Monday. Kumar said he knows some teachers may stay at home like last Friday, but he’ll be in class.

“I really feel that we will be in school on Monday," he said. "I can’t speak for everyone, because people just make their own moves. But I really feel that we will be in school Monday."

The proposed budget cuts to education programs and last week’s surprise pension reform bill are not stopping the teachers from doing what they can before they believe it is too late.

“Our kids are our No. 1 priority here, and they need us to be here, and they need teachers to come into the profession," said Fayette County teacher Jessica Hiler. "So we are just going to encourage that over the next couple of days. I am not optimistic, but there is always hope. I mean, nothing is impossible.”

Bevin has until April 13 to sign or veto the bill.

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