Revisions to Pa. teacher furlough system under review

    Spurred by a down economy and a regard for teacher seniority as “arbitrary,” state lawmakers are sizing up another attempt at removing some of the constraints on furloughing teachers in Pennsylvania.

    Right now, school districts can furlough employees for any one of four reasons. Economic difficulty isn’t one of them, and some state House lawmakers think it should be.

    The secretary of education supports such a change, and says it will give school districts another tool to deal with tight budgets.

    But the move could make furloughs inevitable, said Rep. Mike Carroll.

    “It just seems to me that school boards, in particular, have been dealt a hand now that’s almost an unplayable hand,” said Carroll, D-Luzerne. “Or a different metaphor may be they have an unsolvable mathematical problem and that is that they have a financial foundation upon which they can’t operate the school district.”

    The same legislation also aims to get rid of teacher seniority considerations during furloughs.

    Supporters say it will help schools retain the best educators.

    But representatives of the state’s largest teachers union say the move will just lead to furloughing teachers with the most seniority, because they’re the most expensive employees.

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