Educators remain concerned about private school tax credits, pension board bill

Eyes of Kentucky teachers fixed on Frankfort

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The eyes of many teachers were fixed on Frankfort on Monday.

The controversial pension board bill, House Bill 525, which prompted a sickout across the state last week, saw its first opportunity to be passed by the House.

At the end of the day, lawmakers decided they wouldn’t vote on it just yet, but another piece of legislation has teachers concerned in the new week.

Ten superintendents met in Shelbyville at the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative to speak out against House Bill 205 Monday afternoon, including Marty Pollio of JCPS.

Pollio said he’s against the bill because many districts are already struggling to find funding for payroll, professional development, textbooks and transportation.

Those are problems he said that could be further exacerbated by a loss of students and funding.

“Superintendents all across the state who have been struggling to make ends meet, to get what they need for their students, I want to stand next to them,” Pollio said. “So, it is an issue for Jefferson County Public Schools and it is an issue for all superintendents across the state.”

The Kentucky Education Association has voiced strong opposition to the bill, calling it a backdoor voucher program.

In addition to the wave of superintendents speaking out, teachers in Frankfort said they’re against the bill, too.

The legislation would give a tax break to those who donate to a private school scholarship program.

Proponents said that’ll help at-risk students get better education opportunities.

Those against HB 205 said the tax breaks, which could total around $25 million in their first year, would draw funds away from public schools.

House Bill 205 is listed to be heard in committee Tuesday, but for discussion only, not a vote.

It was given a second reading of the required three late Monday, an action by Majority Floor Leader Bam Carney to which some teachers objected.

“Bless Bam Carney’s heart,” Jeni Bolander, a teacher watching the legislature Monday, said. “I don’t know how he can still call himself a teacher after what he just did to public schools. It was really encouraging that we see our superintendents stick up for us and for public schools and the economic damage its really going to do.”

With two readings, the scholarship tax credit bill could now be read for the final time and voted on, but House Speaker David Osborne said it’s unlikely to happen Tuesday.

“To refuse to even have the conversation of why some should have choice and others shouldn’t is not an appropriate reaction to discussing the bill,” Osborne said.

The pension-board-restructuring bill is still listed as eligible for a final House vote.

Osborne said amendments are being made to it that would address teacher concerns.

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