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Pa. House advances bill aimed at weakening teacher seniority

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would partially undo the state’s seniority protections for teachers, while also allowing school districts to make layoffs for financial reasons – a practice that is now barred.

The bill would allow school districts to ignore seniority when deciding to lay off the small minority of the state’s teachers who have below proficient ratings.

Districts would first lay off those with "failing" ratings, then those designated as "needs improvement."

When deciding between those with the best ratings, seniority would still win the day.

Layoff decisions must be based on teacher evaluations without considering salaries, according to the bill.

And districts seeking to downsize must also furlough an equal percentage of administrative staff, unless given a special waiver from the state.

The bill also allows school districts to make layoffs for financial reasons. Now, layoffs are allowed only when enrollment drops or by cutting programs wholesale.

In the face of state cuts and rising fixed costs in recent years, school administrators said that has forced some school districts into academically imprudent decisions.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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