It will be business as usual at the county's public schools on Nov. 19.
Teachers from across Indiana plan to gather at the Statehouse that day, Organization Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, to have their voices known and talk, specifically, about teacher compensation and hold harmless language following the state’s first I-LEARN results, which were less than stellar across the board.
As many as 30 Hoosier school corporations have announced closures for Nov. 19 to allow teachers to attend “Red for Ed” day, including those in Vigo County, Indianapolis and Evansville. On Friday, officials with South Vermilion and North Central Parke also announced closures.
Vincennes Community School Corp., North Knox and South Knox, however, will be open, administrators say.
VCSC superintendent Greg Parsley said he spoke at length with the teachers the Vincennes Education Association, an organization that represents about half of the corporation’s teachers, and that the collective feeling was that teachers’ time would be better spent in the classroom.
“We will all certainly wear red on Nov. 19,” Parsley said. “But I commend our association because one of our concerns was that if we had a large number out, it’s difficult to find that many substitute teachers.
“They thought sending a stronger message was being in the classroom.”
The Sun-Commercial reached out to the presidents of all three public school teachers associations, but those calls were not immediately returned Friday.
Parsley said teachers who wanted to be gone that day wouldn’t be penalized; they have paid days they can take to spend as they wish.
Many school corporations have opted to use a snow day — and e-learning options — so teachers could attend, but none of the local public school corporations currently have e-learning capabilities.
And given the unpredictable nature of Indiana winters, Parsley said he wasn’t in favor of using a snow day before winter even arrives.
He also doesn’t believe the corporation will be in the minority come “Red for Ed” day; word from the Indiana Superintendents Association, he said, was that the majority of Indiana schools will operate on Nov. 19 as usual.
Parsley said he was “110% in support of public education,” but he questioned the effectiveness of a large delegation of teachers at the Statehouse in a non-budget year.
Will legislators even listen, he wondered?
“This isn’t a budget year, this is a short session,” he said. “And it’s a rarity in Indiana that the biennial budget is over reopened in a non-budget year.
“I think strength at the ballot box in 2020 would send a much stronger message.”
North Knox superintendent Darrel Bobe agreed.
“I’m glad to see the state looking at education,” he said. “But with it not being a budget year, I wonder how open they will be to talking. If it was a budget year, I think the message (of 'Red for Ed' day) might have a little bit more meat to it.
“I just have some skepticism about how much (teachers’) message will be heard.”
That said, Bobe is inviting a delegation of North Knox teachers to go to the Statehouse on Nov. 19. Each building, he said, will be able to send a representative without that teacher losing a paid day off.
The corporation, he said, will absorb the cost.
“And there is a reason for that,” he said. “There is a message that each building may want to send. And the messages they get up there, they can bring bak to their individual buildings.
“I just thought it was important for each building to have a delegation up there.”
If any other teachers want to go, he said, they are welcome to but will have to use their own paid days off to do so.
“I’m not going to tell anybody they can’t go,” he said, “but it will be business as usual here at North Knox.”
South Knox superintendent Tim Grove confirmed that all three school superintendents were in agreement.
While he hadn’t spoken directly with his teachers — he plans to during their regular meeting on Tuesday — he said he hadn’t received a request from the teachers association to close.
“I may have some individual teachers who want to go, and that’s fine,” he said. “But as an official policy, we’re going to be open for school.
“We’ll be wearing our red, but I think we can send a stronger message by being at school and saying, ‘Look, we’re still here doing what we need to do here.’”