A few hundred Chippewa Falls Senior High School students walked out of school at the beginning of the school day Thursday in protest of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would virtually end teacher collective bargaining rights.
The protest began right after the start of the opening period at 8:35 a.m. A student’s voice came over the intercom and asked students opposed to Walker’s plans to go to the Cardinal (east end) doors.
As the students gathered just outside the door, senior Ryan Kahl, wearing a pressed blue dress shirt and a necktie, addressed them.
“This is a peaceful demonstration,” he said. “This is in support of our teachers, guys. Be smart and be courteous.”
The students planned to march to the Chippewa County Courthouse at 711 N. Bridge St.
Prior to the walkout, Chi-Hi Principal James Sauter said he had heard that some students planned a protest, but it was not something the school administration was supporting or encouraging.
The student protest mirrored others around the state Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, about 700 to 800 students poured through the doors of La Crosse’s Central High School and lined a block of adjacent Losey Boulevard, cheering to honks from passing cars and waving handmade signs. Between 200 and 400 students demonstrated at Logan High School in La Crosse for an hour and listened to speeches by two classmates.
About 700 students left Holmen High School, walking to the village hall and back in a demonstration. Several hundred students lined a city block in Tomah.
Some Chippewa Falls teachers were missing class today so they can attend a protest in Madison of Walker’s bill.
At least three teachers are gone today, said Kathy Schultz, the director of human resources for the district. Four teachers attended a similar protest earlier this week.
Schultz explained that under their contract, members of the Chippewa Falls Federation of Teachers can take up to 10 “full service leave” days each school year.
The union has to pay for the substitute teacher when one of those days is used, she explained. And the teacher taking the leave day is not paid for that day.
Reporters from other Lee Newspapers contributed to this report.