Southeastern PA

Teacher furlough changes proposed by local lawmaker

Teacher furlough changes proposed by local lawmaker

A possible game changer for Pennsylvania's teachers and how they hang on to their jobs.

Several bills in play in Harrisburg could take away the protection of teacher seniority.

Lawmakers say allowing districts to furlough teachers based on performance will ensure a quality education for students.

But educators say it will do just the opposite.

Three bills now being crafted in Harrisburg would allow school districts to furlough teachers during tough economic times without consideration of seniority.

Representative Paul Clymer says he is in favor of the change.

"We are saying that maybe we should allow the school administrators and the school board to make that determination. Maybe there is someone there who is has more seniority but doesn't have the qualifications, doesn't have the dedication as a younger teacher," said Clymer.

The House Education Committee heard testimony on the elimination of the seniority safety net for teachers.

Pennridge Education Association President Jim Valletta says it would have a negative impact on education and could be used as an economic or political tool.

"Because they happen to be one of the highest paid people, school boards would look at that them and say that person has got to go because in an economic crisis we can hire two to three teachers for the cost of that one person who is at the top of the scale," said Valletta.

Valletta says the state's new evaluation process already determines effectiveness of teachers and removes those ho can't make the grade.

But Clymer says the process would be an added tool for districts when deciding who should stay and who should go in a financial crisis.

Clymer says the proposals do not have an oversight plan to ensure that districts don't sacrifice quality educators for a better bottom line.

But one could be added.

Valletta says he doubts oversight would work.

A version of one of the proposals could be completed and ready for a vote in January.

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