FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – The focus in Frankfort is shifting to the governor’s office and any vetoes of bills passed by lawmakers, but Kentucky’s teachers are using the break before the session’s final days to lobby for more help in their classrooms.

One highly watched issue this year is the state’s teacher shortage. Education has been one of the defining issues of the session. But supporters are still pushing lawmakers to help Kentucky’s critical shortage — and teachers’ paychecks — before the final gavel falls next week.

“Our teachers are always reaching out to legislators, all the time,” Jessica Hiler told FOX 56. Hiler is president of the Fayette County Education Association, where even in Kentucky’s second-largest school district they are suffering from the same shortages in the classroom being felt statewide.

“We need more subs, we need more paraeducators, we need more of everybody in public schools,” she said.


Hiler said the outreach hasn’t slowed down since the session started on ways to improve the workplace to not only retain more teachers but make it easier to recruit them too. One bill to address the teacher shortage — House Bill 319 — is still awaiting a final vote — and has time to be amended to add in things Hiler says are totally free.

“I need to spend my time planning a lesson or making copies or calling a parent or whatever. But no, you have 15 meetings you have to be in. So, giving teachers back that ability to do what they need to do and treat them like professionals is really important,” Hiler said.

A dedicated planning time and lunch are some examples of amendments teachers would like to see, but some heavier lifts could also be a pay raise. Gov. Andy Beshear has made it a policy priority.

“I think it’s only right that lawmakers come back in these last couple of days and give teachers and educators the raise they deserve. We desperately need it. We are 44th in the country in what is a competition and for talent,” Beshear told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not a budget session, so we don’t want to open the budget,’ but they’ve made some fiscal decisions this year where they have done that,” Hiler said.

Hiler also believed lawmakers passed bills this year that could make the state’s teacher shortage worse. She said controversial rules on pronoun use, sexually-related books and classes, and a ban on transgender health services for minors, referring to SBs 5 and 150, will push teachers away from Kentucky.

“That puts teachers in a in a difficult position because we want to support our kids. That’s number one, what we want to do. And so that’s hard. I’ve heard from teachers that have said I don’t know how much longer I can be here in Kentucky, because with these laws, it just puts so many restrictions on us,” she said.

GOP lawmakers have not signaled any support for a teacher pay raise, though if HB 319 does pass, it would create an interstate compact with states to transfer teacher certifications, allow certain types of temporary certifications for non-teachers experienced in a certain field, allow teacher’s aides to serve as subs, and create a single online job portal among other things. Lawmakers are back in Frankfort for 2 days at the end of this month.