Franklin, Clark-Pleasant cancel classes Tuesday, joining historic teacher movement

By Friday, nearly 400 local educators had called off work Tuesday at Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant and Franklin schools, with plans to rally at the Statehouse for higher wages, lenience on standardized test scores and more qualified teachers.

The historic move left school officials in three of the county’s six school districts with no choice but to cancel classes.

In Clark-Pleasant Community Schools, about 200 educators, including teachers, instructional coaches, special education staff and some administrators, called off work, prompting school officials changed course and cancel school Tuesday.

Franklin Community Schools, which had committed earlier this week to sending 10 teachers to the Statehouse, made the call Friday to cancel school after 38 teachers requested Tuesday off.

Center Grove Community Schools, which had 140 teachers call off, was the first district to cancel school earlier this week.

Those teachers will join more than 12,000 educators from around the state who plan to gather next week at the state capitol building in downtown Indianapolis for Red for Ed Action Day. Teachers will fight for a higher average wage, a hold harmless for the ILEARN exam and an end to the requirement that teachers earn credits through corporate externships to renew their teaching licenses.

The Indiana State Teacher’s Association, the state’s teachers union, wants Indiana lawmakers to pass a bill pushing the average teacher salary up from to $60,000 from $52,000. The hold harmless would mean teachers and school districts won’t be held accountable for the results of the ILEARN exam, which debuted this year and stumped students across the state.

At Indian Creek, Edinburgh and Greenwood schools, substitute teachers will replace those who choose to march at the Statehouse.

The last-minute decision at some schools has left parents and guardians who work scrambling to find childcare for their kids.

At Clark-Pleasant and Center Grove schools, students in kindergarten through eighth grade can sign up for a full-day camp at Honey Grove Educational Center. Those parents and guardians received an email with a link to sign up for the program, which costs $45 if the student is a Honey Grove after-school member, and $50 for non-members. Morning and afternoon snacks will be provided, but lunch will not. Parents must apply by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, said Stacy Conrad, a spokeswoman for Center Grove schools.

Although Cub Care, Franklin’s childcare program, will be closed, the Boys and Girls Club of Franklin will offer activities for its members, said Natalie Fellure, executive director.

The escalating number of teachers calling off caused Franklin school officials to deviate from its original plan to send 10 teachers to the Statehouse and keep schools open Tuesday, Superintendent David Clendening said.

“On Monday, I felt like we had a very good plan through our partnership with (the Franklin Community Teachers’ Association). Ten teachers were going to go up and represent everyone to voice support. But as we moved forward, more teachers requested off personal days, and we could not fill every classroom,” Clendening said.

“I don’t remember in my 30 years as an educator something like this happening.”

Clark-Pleasant schools also changed course after more and more teachers requested Tuesday off, spokesperson John Venter said.

“We want to honor the movement and support the teachers who also want to support the movement, but we also want to make sure children with parents who have jobs are cared for and have the proper childcare. It’s not an easy decision,” Venter said.

“Last time I remember something like this was 1988, when I was in high school.”