The Pennsylvania School Boards Association is encouraged by legislation being proposed by Sen. Ryan Aument and Rep. Stephen Bloom that would provide school districts flexibility in managing its professional staff. Currently, school districts may not reduce staff due to economic reasons. Instead, districts may not take budgets into consideration, but can only reduce professional staff by eliminating entire programs or if student population significantly decreases.
The proposed legislation would allow districts to take economic factors into consideration and also allow for the furlough of teachers according to the needs of the district. Currently, staff reductions must be handled on seniority basis or “last in, first out.”
“While the decision to reduce staff is certainly not taken lightly and is often a last resort for school districts, where reductions in personnel expenditures are necessary, they must be done in a rational, measured and efficient manner through the use of entirely objective criteria where seniority is not the determining factor,” said PSBA Executive Director Nathan Mains. “The students of our public schools deserve the best quality teachers instructing them and school districts should not be forced to furlough teachers strictly based on seniority.”
The General Assembly often urges school leaders to operate their districts more efficiently. Current law does not give school districts the appropriate tools to effectively manage their workforce. In the business world, a decline in existing revenue, required expenditure increases, and limited flexibility to raise new revenue would result in looking for immediate savings through personnel reductions. The proposed legislation will give districts the tool they need to better manage their limited personnel and financial resources.