Community forums across west Louisville focused on JCPS state takeover

Community forums across west Louisville focused on JCPS state takeover
JCTA organized a public forum at the King Solomon Baptist Church.
Barbara Boyd led another forum Thursday night. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Barbara Boyd led another forum Thursday night. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Years of a widening education gap among low and high income schools has reached a tipping point. A community forum addressed the looming state takeover of the Jefferson County Public School district and the union contract.

"We are not just happy hearing plans, we are looking for some action," Bishop Dennis Lyons said.

In Tuesday's board meeting, Jerry Stevenson, with the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition, said the teachers union contract is the greatest hindrance to children of color.

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Thursday, Lyons called for a community forum giving the Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim a platform. McKim explained the authority the school board would lose if the state took over, and pointed to Article 33 of the union contract.

The article deals with priority schools, which are low performers when compared with the rest of the district. They get special attention to raise student achievement. There are currently 18 priority schools in JCPS.

Article 33 lists help given to those schools -- like first pick from teachers on transfer lists and incentives such as board certification, graduate school completion, and continuing education reimbursement.

McKim said this week that Article 33 isn't utilized by the school board as much as it could be.

"We have disciplinary problems," Lyons said. "We have academic achievement problems."

Lyons believes the issues are results of the current system.

"It is too early in the game to make a decision that's going to be this monumental," activist Barbara Boyd said. "This is going to affect hundreds of thousands of people."

Boyd is a retired JCPS teacher and member of JCTA. She is currently working with the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. She said student performance is reflective on teachers, and is kept in mind while bargaining.

"Now why would teachers sabotage themselves, that doesn't make sense to me," Boyd said.

Bishop Lyons said he is going to stay critical, but supports JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio.

"I believe he wants to put in a change and that's what we are looking for," Lyons said. "Until we see a change we will continue to be concerned about the system."

McKim encouraged the community to reach out the Kentucky Department of Education with their wants for JCPS.

The Jefferson County School Board has until May 30 to challenge the state takeover.

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