No school Monday at GCT, teachers request to go to Little Rock

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Wednesday night's meeting regarding public school employee insurance premiums prompted one Region 8 district to close their doors on Monday.

GCT Superintendent Jerry Noble sent a letter home with students Thursday explaining how a committee at his school requested a calendar revision from the GCT Board of Education.

The Certified Personnel Policy Committee, or PPC, is the teacher voice on school issues and policy.

They requested to not work Monday after an invite to the state capitol from Representative James Ratliff.

"I invite each and every one of you to come to the insurance, commerce and education meeting Monday at 10 o'clock," Ratliff announced. "We will raise the roof!"

Noble said he knows it's short notice but hopes parents will understand their need to show up in force in Little Rock.

"We're gonna allow people to go down there that can make it to keep the pressure on that we need something done," Noble said.

Noble said last night's explanation by the Employee Benefits Division, or EBD, wasn't the answer many school employees were looking for.

"But it's not hopeless because the legislators, I think, got the message. They know they've got to do something," Noble said.

While legislators are working to correct the problem, it was the EBD who voted to raise school employee insurance rates two weeks ago. A move the EBD admitted they foresaw years ago.

"I can't say that it wasn't foreseen," Interim Deputy Director, Doug Shackelford said at Wednesday night's meeting. "I think you have all known for years that the rates have continually gone up a little bit and a little bit but yet the funding hasn't changed, it's eventually gonna hit the tipping point. Well, we're there."

Noble said he simply wished the EBD would've done something years ago.

"If I were going to blame the EBD for anything, it's waiting too long. They knew this crisis was coming years ago, as they stated, and they should have...why did they wait and just all of the sudden let the whole system crash? Now we're sitting here with a real critical problem," Noble said.

Noble said the GCT Board of Education decided to make up the day off at the end of the school year, similar to if they had a snow day.

Noble also explained that staff members who travel to Little Rock will be doing so on their own time on a non-contracted day.

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