Issue 2 fails, but Budget Bill makes changes

In last week’s election, Issue 2 failed, repealing the controversial Senate Bill 5.  SB 5 addressed issues ranging from how unions could negotiate to the percent of health care premiums public workers were required to pay.  However, despite SB5’s repeal, some of the ideas live on in the current Budget Bill, also known as House Bill 153, which took effect September 30, 2011.

The Budget Bill changed Ohio law with respect to evaluations, merit pay, reduction-in-force regarding seniority, teaching licenses, sick leave and health care benefits.  While not as dramatic and far-reaching as SB5, the Budget Bill still makes dramatic changes in how schools will be doing business.

The two largest changes come with how teachers are evaluated and compensated.  While the actual framework is still in process, and approaches are being piloted by Race to the Top (RttT) districts, the idea is to incorporate both a teacher’s performance and his/her students’ accomplishments, plus other factors.  The best way to do this, to be fair to everyone, is still under debate.

Requirements are also loosened regarding retention, promotion and removal of teachers.  Now, these decisions will be based on personal and student performance, and districts will no longer be accountable to union rules when a teacher is not delivering in the classroom.  However, the language is confusing and many believe the actual process will be challenged in court before an appropriate process is defined.

This applies to reduction-in-force (RIFs) as well as everyday performance.  RIFs are when a district must let teachers go either to gain efficiencies or because of financial hardship. Previously, union contracts required teachers to be RIFd based on seniority – performance could not come into play at all.  The new law says RIFs must be conducted based on performance; the only time seniority comes into play is if two teachers who are being considered to be RIFd are rated exactly the same.

The other huge change in this bill is compensation.  Instead of salary schedules based on time worked, teachers will now be paid according to a performance-based salary schedule – i.e., merit pay – that includes reviews, licensure and being “highly-qualified.”  Once again, the language around this is vague and confusing.  Systems will likely be challenged a number of times before an effective system is finally developed.

However, while the Budget Bill is now in effect, an individual district’s union agreement takes precedent.  For Milford, our agreement goes through July, 2014, so the Budget Bill will not apply to us fully until then.  However, we are also a Race to the Top (RttT) district, which means we will be piloting performance-based evaluations and merit pay earlier than this.  Confusing?  You bet!  Basically, our current contract and our participation in RttT combine to give us the support and time to move to a new system as smoothly as possible; but, as with any major change, there is likely to be confusion – and many challenges – along the way.

What do you think about the changes to evaluations and compensation?  Please share your thoughts!

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4 Responses to “Issue 2 fails, but Budget Bill makes changes”

  1. Larry Deel Says:

    I am very much in favor of performance based evaluations and compensation. Anything less does not provide enough incentive.

  2. andreabrady Says:

    Hi Larry,
    I agree with you, but I’m not sure that this new system is going to be any more appropriate than the old. It’s extremely ill-defined and there are lots of questions; from what I can tell, it does not give districts the freedom a private enterprise has re: performance-based approaches. It could end up being much more expensive than the previous system, yet not that much more effective. We’ll see how it shakes out – it’ll be interesting, that’s for sure!

  3. Larry Deel Says:

    I sent you an email a few weeks ago. You did not reply. Am I spam now?

  4. andreabrady Says:

    You are! Ha ha! Actually, you caught me at a bad time, some health issues, you were on the list to answer today – which I will do instead of going into details here 🙂

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