Whenever I hear about a young teacher being laid off, I think back to an article that ran in the Columbus Dispatch earlier this year. It referred to the Pickerington School District having to let go of a large number of teachers. Five of the teachers that were to be laid off were voted “Teacher of the Year” by their respective schools within the district.

The unfortunate story stemmed from Pickerington’s “last in, first out” policy, which determines all layoff decisions based on tenure. Simply stated, those with the least seniority are the first to go.

Senate Bill 5 implements a performance-based pay policy. That is, instead of all staffing decisions being decided by who has been on the job the longest, schools will also have the ability to look at someone’s talents. This would surely give schools a better opportunity to hold onto good teachers, such as those who are nominated “Teacher of the Year.”

But perhaps the bigger issue with the situation in Pickerington was that it was forced to lay off 17 percent of its teaching staff. When a school is near the verge of laying off one-fifth of its staff, then we are no longer only talking about young teachers. In fact, one of the laid off teachers had worked at the school for eight years.

The reason such drastic staff reductions were needed was because the school district had to cut $13 million from its budget. Schools all over the state have faced similar financial realities, and the loss of teaching jobs has been the result.

However, instead of making cuts solely by laying off teachers—which negatively impacts our children’s educations—Senate Bill 5 includes provisions that gives school districts greater flexibility over their budgets. Requiring that all school employees pay slightly more toward their healthcare and retirement frees up space for schools to keep more teachers on staff.

We should do whatever we can to keep good teachers in our schools. The simple, common-sense provisions in Senate Bill 5 will help make that possible.


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