Protests focus on different bill, teachers remain watchful of past legislation

Teachers gather in Frankfort to protest 3 pieces of legislation

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Teachers taking to Frankfort during another sickout came protesting multiple bills Wednesday.

Their focus was mainly on three pieces of legislation, all in different parts of the legislative process.

Teachers concerned about House Bill 525, the pension board restructuring bill, lined the capitol steps outside the House, in case it was brought up for a vote.

The sound of chanting, blocked only by doors, was still audible to lawmakers in their chamber.

Ultimately, HB 525 did not get called for a floor vote, but teachers did crowd into a committee room to protest another bill they said would take power away from site-based, decision-making teams.

Some members called out SB 250, the SBDM bill, for not getting enough support in the Education Committee and being brought to a more friendly local government committee.

“I’ve heard the term ‘committee shopping,’ somebody has to say it,” Rep. Joe Graviss, D-Versailles, said. “I just feel like it’s inappropriate that this bill which is clearly to do with education has landed in our lap.”

Senate Bill 250 passed committee Wednesday, despite the criticism. It could soon receive a vote on the floor.

Sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams, SB 250 would give superintendents the power to pick school principals, instead of local teams. She said it would only affect JCPS, which needs the tool to avoid a state takeover.

“There is a dramatic lack of trust between the education community and members of the general assembly,” said Raque Adams, also the Majority Caucus Chair. “So, we’re very reactionary to think that, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be a terrible thing’ or, ‘She’s waking up every morning to do something that’s going to negatively impact us.’ It’s just the opposite. I mean, I come in peace.”

Those against the bill said the current principal selection process works well, and SBDMs at failing schools already can’t pick their principals, adding that, if more power is given to a superintendent, it may backfire if an unfavorable leader takes power.

“It null and voids the school-based, decision-making councils,” Rep Jeffrey Donohue, D-Fairdale, said. “That’s what it does. It takes the authority away from them.”

Those against the bill said they feel like community voices will be left out of the process.

Raque Adams said it’s not likely a superintendent would pick every school’s principal.

Committee member representative Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, said that wildcat groups are undermining the bargaining power of organized teacher unions.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.