Teacher furlough reform takes shape across Pennsylvania - Erie News Now | WICU & WSEE in Erie, PA

Teacher furlough reform takes shape across Pennsylvania

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ERIE, Pa. -

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf this week has allowed changes to a decades-old teacher furlough law to become the new law by neither signing nor vetoing Act 55 of 2017. School districts across Pennsylvania can now furlough a teacher for economic reasons rather than seniority or tenure.

"They would have to adopt a resolution 60 days prior to the final passage of the budget at the end of June each year," said Marcus Schlegel, a representative for Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

The determining factor: a teacher's evaluation rating.

"The evaluation data was never designed to rank teachers for any purpose, much less furlough," Schlegel said.

This bill is sort of two-fold for the Erie School District because it also includes the additional $14 million in recurring revenue. Union leaders there are confident these furlough changes will not affect them.

Bill kuhar is the President of the Erie Education Association, the 840-member union representing Erie public school teachers and support staff. He's urging members to also look at what he considers benefits for the district as well.

"It has opioid education, it has education for school board members as a part of that bill," said Kuhar. "So there are some really good pieces to it."

The bill also postponed using Keystone Exams as graduation requirements until the 2019-20 school year.

But the concern continues outside of Erie's Public Schools. While Schlegel says he's unaware of any local districts possibly furloughing faculty members, he says that data is subjective, and that a teacher's tenure also equates to experience in the classroom.

"Do you run the risk of essentially punishing educators who are trying their best to work with the students who need the most help?" Schlegel asks.

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