JCPS teachers protest in Frankfort in March 2019. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

Despite a bipartisan message from lawmakers that controversial education bills are dead, Jefferson County Public Schools will be closed for Thursday — its sixth sickout in two weeks and third in a row.

Bullitt County schools will also be closed due to high teacher absences, the district said.

The decision comes hours after a bipartisan group of Louisville lawmakers released a statement confirming what many reporters and legislators had been saying all day: Two education bills heavily protested by teachers are dead.

There is not enough time left to pass legislation changing the makeup of the teachers’ pension board — House Bill 525 — or allowing scholarship tax credits — House Bill 205 — this session, Reps. Jason Nemes and Joni Jenkins, plus Sen. Morgan McGarvey and Julie Raque Adams wrote.

“We want people to know that regardless of chamber of party, we agree that neither HB 205 nor HB 525 (or a separate bill with similar provisions) will pass in any way, shape, or form this session,” the statement said.

“We look forward to continuing a conversation with our educators and all constituents over the interim about issues that impact our schools leading into next year’s important budget session. But, for now, we wish to restate that HB 205, HB 525, or any bill with similar provisions will not be called for passage this session.”

Two JCPS school board members tweeted support of the statement, urging teachers to trust lawmakers and head back to the classroom for Thursday. “I know trust for Frankfort is hard to come by these days,” board vice chairman Chris Kolb tweeted. 

As sickouts continued over the past two weeks, so did teachers’ distrust in their elected officials. Several fear a reprise of last year’s “sewer bill,” where lawmakers gutted a wastewater bill to pass pension reform at the end of the session.

Two session days remain — Thursday and March 28.

Olivia Krauth
Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]