Four Kentucky school districts forced to close as teachers call out sick in protest

Four Kentucky school districts forced to close as teachers call out sick in protest
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At least four school districts in Kentucky closed Thursday due to a statewide demonstration by teachers opposed to proposed cuts to public education funding.

The Associated Press reports that the districts were forced to close schools due to a "sick out" in which teachers coordinate to all use their paid time off for illness on the same day.

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Districts that were unable to call in sufficient substitutes were closed, according to the AP, despite efforts from state teachers' groups to reinforce some districts.

Republicans in the state are proposing a tax credit that would apply to Kentucky residents who donate to scholarship funds for private schools, a plan that the Legislative Research Commission reportedly found would cost state schools millions in expected tax revenue.

“Teachers are severely concerned that if they don’t stand up and come out of their classrooms for a moment, even today, to have their voice heard, then we’re not going to be able to effectively do our jobs,” one Bullitt County teacher told the AP. “Teachers feel last year was reactive. Last year, legation was passed and then we stood up. We want to be on the forefront.”

Lawmakers, however, countered that the state had recently fully funded a $2 billion retirement fund for state teachers as a sign of support for public education.

"That's part of funding education," Kentucky state Sen. Robert Stivers (R) told the news service.

Kentucky teachers walked out last year over a law that would have decreased cost-of-living benefits and raised the requirements for new hires to be eligible for retirements benefits. That law was tossed out by Kentucky's Supreme Court in December.