Education Committee action on teacher contract bills

In work sessions this morning, the Legislature's Education Committee settled on two important policy issues related to teachers' employment contracts.

First, they killed LD 275 which would have reduced the notification period for employment termination (via RIF) from 90 days to 30 days.

Second, they unanimously approved LD 976 after amending it to include some provisions of LD 444 and LD 1322. The amended bill extends the probationary period to three years for teachers hired beginning with the Sept 2012 school year. The bill also requires a minimum level of evaluation and support for probationary teachers.

Sponsored by Representative Johnson, LD 976 had originally included a provision for limiting a teacher's employment contract to five years. There was some confusion about the key differences between the typical 1-year duration of continuing employment contracts and the 5-year period of certification. But the apparent intention of this provision was to permit districts to let teachers' contracts expire without the customary requirement of due process (the so-called provisions of "tenure") at five-year intervals. The committee removed this part from the bill.

In its place, the Committee added an amendment by Representative Richardson requiring the Commissioner of Education, by the end of this year, to bring forward recommendations for improved models of teacher evaluation, re-certification, professional development, terms of employment, etc.

***

Update (1:15pm): Voting 11-1, with Rep Richardson in the minority, the Committee moved Ought Not To Pass on LD 1013 which would have allowed spouses of school board members to be school employees.