Fayette County teachers on March 15 plan to participate in “walk-in” rallies to protest the Senate bill that cuts teacher retirement benefits in an effort to fix Kentucky’s pension systems.
The initiative from the Fayette County Education Association, an educator’s group, follows Thursday’s events, in which teachers in eight Kentucky counties conducted similar walk-ins.
In Lexington, “we will be urging our legislators to vote no on Senate Bill 1 and fully fund K-12 education,” FCEA President Jessica Hiler said Thursday night.
Hiler said there will be no impact to the school or student schedule.
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“School staff at all schools are encouraged to make signs and gather outside of their school sites either before students arrive in the morning or after dismissal,” Hiler said. “The FCEA Building Representatives at all schools are working with their principals right now to work out logistics.”
In the Thursday Kentucky rallies, teachers and other school employees planned to gather outside 28 schools, then walked into the building while voicing their opposition to Senate Bill 1. The schools were in Clark, Franklin, Garrard, Lincoln, Montgomery, Rockcastle and Woodford counties and Danville Independent School District. Montgomery County teachers also planned rallies after school.
“Here in Fayette County, we stand in solidarity with our teachers. We will join them in their walk-in to show our support for our educators,” said Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk. “It’s important that we send the strongest message possible to our lawmakers to honor the inviolable contract.”
As pension reform has gone through the legislative process, first as a proposal from the governor and then as a Senate bill, teachers and public employees have been vocal in their opposition. The current proposal would cut billions of dollars in benefits for teachers and other public workers over the next 20 years in an effort to eliminate an unfunded liability of more than $40 billion.
The rallies come at a time of a national movement for teachers. In West Virginia, teachers in all 55 counties went on a strike last month that lasted for more than week before the legislature approved a 5 percent pay increase for public employees.