JCTA holds emergency meeting over possible pay freeze, discipline changes

JCTA holds emergency meeting over possible pay freeze, discipline changes
Tammy Berlin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Tammy Berlin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Gary Miracle (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Gary Miracle (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Lauren Dowell (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Lauren Dowell (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Stephen Johnson (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Stephen Johnson (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Jefferson County Teachers Association met Thursday afternoon in an emergency meeting after recent controversial proposals from Jefferson County Public Schools.

"This has been a very hectic week," Tammy Berlin, a JCTA Vice President, said.

JCTA had to use an overflow room to fit all the teachers that came to the meeting. Many said they were frustrated and looked to the union for guidance on what to do after the district's new proposals.

A new JCPS commissioned study suggests a pay freeze for thousands of teachers and administrators making more than $14 an hour.

Gary Miracle teaches at Fairdale Elementary.

"I'm four years away from retiring and pay freezes will not help me," Miracle said.

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While he's a longtime JCPS teacher, he's also worried about what the freeze would do to new teachers.

"If you're going to freeze my salary, what's my incentive to go on and get my Masters and my rank 1," Miracle said.

The union criticized the study, saying JCPS has a much higher percentage of teachers with Master's degrees than the other district it was compared to in the 1,000 page report.

Lauren Dowell teaches at Shacklette Elementary. She pointed out the district's study looks at Florida and Texas where there's no state income tax.

"If I take the income tax out of my paycheck then we're getting a lot closer to what they're doing there," Dowell said.

She's also frustrated over the district's possible code of conduct change.

"I want every child at my school to feel safe," Dowell said.

The changes would shorten many school suspensions and not allow them for things like inappropriate sexual behavior or theft.

"If I have a young man saying things like, 'I should rape her, she looks like she could be raped,' I don't want him there the next day," Dowell said.

"JCPS says that they want to take a hard stand on bullying," Berlin said. "Well we need them to back that up."

Teachers said in the past, there haven't been too many issues with superintendents and administration, but now they've gotten to a boiling point.

"I think the union had a pretty easy job," Stephen Johnson, a JCPS high school teacher, said. "Now, it's time to stand up."
 
No changes will be made until the district's May 10 meeting.

JCTA is asking people to wear red on Monday as a sign of support, and they also plan to ask parents to walk in with their students as a sign of solidarity.

Thursday's meeting didn't discuss performance based pay, but that was also suggested in the study. Johnson called it an untenable way to pay teachers moving forward.

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