• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Teachers voice concerns about pension reform bill

Teachers voice concerns about pension reform bill

Teachers from Woodford County Public Schools and school districts across the state went to Frankfort last Friday so lawmakers would hear their opposition to Senate Bill 1, which proposes cuts to teacher retirement benefits.

Huntertown Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Kim Hartley was among the educators from Woodford County who traveled to Frankfort so their concerns would be heard.

“We needed a presence there to let the Senate know that we don’t take what we’re saying lightly,” said Hartley, “and what they’re wanting to do with Senate Bill 1 is not fair, and we oppose it.” She said having teachers at the capital made a difference.

“We were loud and they heard us, they heard our voices,” said Hartley, who has spent most of her 21 years in the classroom at Huntertown. “They knew how many (teachers) there were (in Frankfort), and I think it deterred several of them from voting for the bill, or they took a walk to not have to vote.”

No vote was taken on Senate Bill 1, which seeks to reduce the state’s unfunded pension liability by moving teachers from a defined benefit retirement plan to a hybrid cash balance plan.

In an effort to raise awareness about the proposed cuts to teacher retirement benefits, Huntertown Principal Elaine Kaiser and her faculty also participated in a “walk-in” last Thursday and Friday mornings.

“I know there’s been a lot in the news about Senate Bill 1,” said Kaiser, “and a lot of people are not aware of how it truly affects education.

So the teachers felt very strongly about making people aware of what it would do to public education.”

She said proposed changes in Senate Bill 1 would mean veteran teachers will have to retire later while younger teachers will be faced with uncertain pension benefits.

“And my concern … is if we can’t somehow find a good solution, then we’re not going to have as many young people going into education and that’s going to hurt the future of our kids in Kentucky,” said Kaiser.

She helped out in the classroom last Friday so four teachers and one instructional assistant from Huntertown could travel to the state capital last Friday “because we felt it was important for our voice to be heard…”

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