By: Hannah Weisenberger
On Friday, March 30th, Jefferson County Public Schools and many other school districts across the state were closed due to the unusually high number of teachers that called in sick. They called in sick to have their voices heard in the rotunda of the state capital.
The night before, the Kentucky House and Senate passed Senate Bill 151, which had begun as a sewage bill. The teachers became concerned when they noticed that the bill stated that they would not be able to retire until the age of 65. The bill would also place teachers hired after January 1, 2019 in a hybrid cash-balance plan rather than their normal pension.
The teachers’ pension, as of right now, can be viewed as a “pool.” 13 percent of each paycheck that a teacher receives automatically goes into this “pool.” They are putting their own money into the pool and this is not money that the state owes them; it is money that they have already earned as part of their salary. The money being put into it is then taken out by retired teachers and is their source of income. If new teachers will no longer be adding to this pool it will eventually dry out and the teachers that are currently adding to it will not have retirement money of their own.
Matt Bevin, the governor of Kentucky, tweeted that “Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing,” referring to the passing of Senate Bill 151.
The passing of this bill sparked a movement among teachers. The Monday after this took place teachers gathered at the state capital to protest for what they felt was right. They held signs and sang chants as they joined each other in unity.