Monday, October 31, 2011

Danny Bubp on Issue 2/SB5: Schools Will Have Flexibility, Can Hire More Teachers

As their budgets tighten, schools have relied more heavily on levies. This has obviously increased uncertainty for schools across the state because a levy's passage is never guaranteed. It is especially challenging in times like these, when families - facing layoffs or pay freezes - have been forced to tighten their own belts and are thus less able to support tax increases.

While these are certainly trying times, simple changes can be made. Senate Bill 5 gives schools greater flexibility over their budgets, which in the past has not been available to them because of growing union demands. Such demands included automatic pay raises, excessive paid leave and generous retirement packages.

Besides lessening the burden on taxpayers to cover teachers' healthcare and retirement benefits, SB 5 also eliminates the "last hired, first fired" policy that has long been a staple in union contracts. In the past, this policy has cost many young and energetic teachers their jobs, simply because they were not as tenured. Also, because younger teachers are often paid less, when layoffs were necessary, schools have been forced to cut more teaching positions in order to cover their deficits.

The previous General Assembly refused to confront these issues, electing instead to fill gaps in the education budget with one-time stimulus funds. They knew this would not solve the problem over the long haul, but did it anyway because it was more politically expedient.

That option is no longer available. If we do not get our fiscal house in order, schools will continue trying to pass levies onto the backs of local taxpayers who simply can no longer afford them.

Danny Bubp

State Representative

88th Ohio House District