Pa. lawmaker revives bill to change teacher furlough rules

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker has reintroduced legislation to change the way teachers are laid off during school budget cuts.

Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland) says his proposal would end the mandated practice of seniority-based layoffs and require schools to rely on teacher performance ratings adopted in 2012.

“While seniority-based dismissal decisions are sometimes touted as fair, in reality they ignore differences in teacher quality and disrupt more classrooms than performance-based layoffs,” Bloom said in a statement Wednesday. “And under the existing laws, whole programs must often be eliminated – like art, music or foreign languages – rather than simply laying off the most chronically underperforming teachers.”

The House and Senate approved Bloom’s legislation last year. Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed it. Wolf’s office in a statement said “the focus of our policies should not be on how to conduct mass layoffs. It should be about how to invest in our schools.”

Bloom said he’s hopeful the governor will reconsider. He said Pennsylvania is one of only six states that mandates seniority as the sole factor in determining teacher layoffs.

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