By Mindy Ragan Wood, Staff Writer – Yukon school Superintendent Jason Simeroth and school board members held a town hall meeting with parents, teachers, and students the night before passing a resolution in support of the teacher walk out.
Simeroth addressed an audience of about 200 in the Yukon high school gym Tuesday night to discuss how the district wide suspension of classes would affect everything from food services to graduation.
Simeroth said the schools will close due to safety concerns.
“We will not close unless there are not enough teachers here to safely monitor your children. That’s why I decided to close school on those days,” he said.
Simeroth said the district administration and school board does not want to see schools close, but they support teachers’ decision to walk out. The statewide walkout is planned for April 2, the day before state testing begins.
“We’re preferable that it doesn’t (happen), that something happens in the legislature to give them a pay raise and a revenue stream so we can continue to educate our kids, but there is not one person in our administration or on our school board that is not behind the teachers in the classroom.”
Parents of high school seniors were concerned that a lengthy walkout could impact graduation.
“Seniors will graduate, we will have a graduation. The state says graduations are based on district decisions…We have the flexibility to adjust those competencies to make sure your sons and daughters graduate. Depending on the length of this whole deal, the law says they have to go 1,080 hours. That’s not an option, that’s something that they have to do, so if we have several days of a teacher demonstration, or walkout they may have to come back to finish those 1,080 hours,” he explained.
Other programs like prom and Project Graduation will depend on the those sponsoring the event. Special Olympics will still be held unless other districts cancel participation.
Concurrent enrollment and career tech classes would continue, but any activities normally held during school hours will be cancelled.
State testing will not take place and the SAT test scheduled for April 10 is likely to be postponed with April 24 as the last day to take the exam. AP testing will be offered.
Simeroth pleaded with parents to call their legislators but urged them to thank those who have supported bills that would have given teachers pay raises.
“We want you to stay on our side as parents, because this is a battle we can’t win without you,” he began as he referred to a handout detailing the financial crisis for schools. “Our representatives Rhonda Baker, John Paul Jordan and Senator Stephanie Bice have voted yes on previous bills. I have no doubt they will do that again, so I would suggest you thank them and urge them to continue to support education. If you go to our Facebook page you can see the list of no voters from the last bill that was there. Call the people who voted no even if they’re not in your district and tell them it’s serious. Tell them your kids aren’t going to go to school. Tell them, ‘do you want to be stuck all day with my kid for 39 days?’” he laughed with the audience. “Seriously, tell them what an imposition it is as a voter. We have to build that momentum, because we can’t do it alone.”