Protesters demanding more education funding waited on the Capitol steps in April 2018 while legislators vote inside. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

A new agreement between Jefferson County Public Schools and its teachers union could help the district avoid more teacher sickouts.

Three teachers from each JCPS school would be selected to rally in Frankfort for each day in the session next week, beginning Tuesday, according to an email shared with Insider Louisville. That would mean more than 500 people from JCPS alone to continue a wave of protests over public education, but no district closures.

“This plan will provide teachers the opportunity to have a significant presence in Frankfort for the remainder of the session and allow schools to be open,” the email from the union read.

Kentucky’s largest district has closed three times over the past seven days due to high numbers of teacher absences, with some predicting additional sickouts in the remaining days of the legislative session. Other districts joined the sickout on two of those days, with JCPS teachers staging a solo sickout on Wednesday.

District and union leaders have been somewhat critical of the recent sickouts, saying they support teachers’ dedication to public education but want to hold classes.

“However, the transformative work we are in the midst of can’t happen if students are not in school,” JCPS Spokeswoman Renee Murphy said in a statement Wednesday after the district’s teachers struck out on their own protest. “Hundreds of classes were not going to have a teacher or a substitute today, therefore we could not safely have school.”

The union said it didn’t condone Wednesday’s protest in a Facebook post, saying continued district-closing protests could cause them to lose meaning and public support. Teachers pushed back, asking why their union was not supporting them.

That sentiment continued on social media Thursday as news of the plan broke. “JCTA supports JCTA not the teachers,” one person responded.

It is unclear how teachers will respond. Wednesday’s solo protest bucked calls from the larger statewide KY 120 United movement to stay in the classroom, and a similar situation could happen again.

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]