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Cover story: Connecting the dots - Community building for English Learners
In October 2017, legislators passed a School Code bill that includes changes to educators’ seniority rights and furlough rules. On Nov. 6, Gov. Tom Wolf allowed the bill to become law without his signature. It is Act 55 of 2017.
PSEA opposed these changes from the beginning. But, thanks to PSEA members’ advocacy, Gov. Wolf, and our legislative allies, the plan ensures that seniority is the determining factor in furlough decisions for the vast majority of educators.
In June 2018, legislators passed a School Code bill amending Act 55 to ensure that experienced educators with multiple certifications are not furloughed simply because they teach in a program area a district intends to cut. This change addressed one of the major flaws in Pennsylvania’s new furlough law.
This law includes four categories of educators, based on their most recent two, consecutive years of evaluation results. The idea behind this is, if economic furloughs are necessary in a school district, the lowest-rated educators would be furloughed first and the highest-rated educators would be furloughed last, with seniority being used as a deciding factor within each category.
Temporary professional employees would continue to be furloughed first. Educators in category 1 could be furloughed next. Furloughs could then proceed in order through categories 2, 3, and 4.
Because of PSEA members’ advocacy and Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of HB 805 last year, Act 55 is far less damaging than previous versions — including a bill introduced by Sen. John Eichelberger that would have allowed furloughs of any educator for any reason.
Under this law, seniority will remain a determining factor in furlough decisions for the vast majority of educators. In addition, the law includes provisions requiring:
Despite these improvements, PSEA still opposed this law and will oppose any bill that uses factors other than seniority to determine furlough order.