Position Paper – Senate Bill 227 (Senator John Eichelberger)

DATE: February 6, 2017

PSBA POSITION ON Senate Bill 227 — Providing for notification and approval of assistant superintendent and superintendent contracts

PSBA Position: Support

On behalf of the 4,500 elected officials who govern the commonwealth’s public school districts, we request your support for Senate Bill 227, sponsored by Senator John Eichelberger. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) supports making superintendent and assistant superintendent contract renewal decisions open to the public.

PSBA supports the changes to the contract renewal process as well as efforts to make the process more publicly accessible. This legislation allows school boards more time in making contract decisions and brings changes that put decisions in local community’s hands. Currently, when voting on superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts the early deadline and “regular meeting” requirements for school boards can put the board in tough situations. When there is board turnover new board members may not have a chance to place a vote for a superintendent and instead the contract is automatically renewed for the full term. Under Senate Bill 227 if the deadline is missed boards will now only have to wait one year before making the important decision of who the superintendent will be.

The proposed one-year automatic extension also provides school directors with more flexibility. The extension time period could change the way school boards look at buyout options and may have them become less frequent. Also boards undecided on making a superintendent decision could wait an additional year before having the vote as opposed to the current system of the full term automatically renewing.   

Summary:

Senate Bill 227 (Eichelberger): Amends the Public School Code to modify the contract extension period if the school board has not made a decision in one year.  The Public School Code provides for automatic contract extension of a period similar to what the superintendent or assistant superintendent currently holds upon inaction of the school board. Senate Bill 227 would amend this provision so that contracts would be extended for one year and would explicitly state that the superintendent or assistant superintendent shall not be prevented from being considered for or appointed to a further term. This provision gives school boards additional flexibility in their workforce decision-making and increases their ability to maintain a superintendent for a period shorter than the original contract if necessary.

Additionally, under the provisions in SB 227 the superintendent proposal would have to be considered at a public meeting 90 days prior to the expiration date of the superintendent's term. Senate Bill 227 will change the deadline for school boards to make renewal decisions on superintendent and assistant superintendent contracts from 150 to 90 days.