Senate Passes Furlough Bill, but Keeps “Last In First Out”

Today, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 612 by a 38-12 count. The bill, sponsored by Senator Folmer, would give school districts the ability to furlough teachers and other school employees for economic reasons, i.e., a lack of funds available to balance the budget. Previously, schools could only lay off employees due to a decline in enrollment or a restructuring process.

Unfortunately, the final version of SB 612 keeps the Last-In-First-Out principle when considering which teachers to lay-off. This provision hampers school officials by making seniority the focus of furlough decisions, instead of performance—the measure used in other professional settings.

The bill was amended yesterday to remove a provision giving school districts flexibility in evaluating employees’ performance. The only exception in the current version is for teachers with two consecutive unsatisfactory evaluations. Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) often works to protect bad teachers and harm good teachers. Heavily lobbied for the by PSEA, LIFO is another example of how teachers’ unions works against the best interest of many teachers.

SB 612 is one of 17 mandate relief bills introduced by the Senate this spring. It’s disappointing to see the Senate watering down their mandate relief package when it’s clear that kids should learn from the best teachers, regardless of their seniority.

On a positive note, three other mandate relief bills passed the Senate yesterday, including:

  • SB 858, allowing hiring flexibility, specifically permitting those with an advanced business or finance degree to hold superintendent positions.
  • SB 872, which frees schools from creating a committee to participate in duel-enrollment programs.
  • SB 857, revoking language that forces school districts to spend any increase in basic education funding on new programs and expansion of existing programs.