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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida lawmaker files bill to prohibit annual contract guarantees for school teachers

Pasco County teachers protest outside a School Board meeting in November 2016 for stronger job protections.

Times file photo

Pasco County teachers protest outside a School Board meeting in November 2016 for stronger job protections.

23

January

The dozens of Florida school districts that have negotiated annual contract renewal guarantees to teachers with "effective" and "highly effective" evaluations might find themselves needing to revise their positions.

State Rep. Michael Grant, a Port Charlotte Republican, filed a bill Monday to bar the practice that several districts, including Pinellas County, have adopted.

HB 373 would provide that school boards may not award an annual contract "on the basis of any contingency or condition not expressly authorized." Boards also would be barred from altering or limiting their authority in granting annual contracts beyond the provisions in law. The measure would apply to collectively bargained contracts only.

Teachers union leaders and lawyers have argued that offering job protections for highly rated teachers does not run afoul of the Legislature's intent to get rid of continuing contracts. They suggested that lawmakers wanted to reward top performing educators, and that contractual provisions to grant those teachers another year of employment would meet such goals.

But some legislative leaders and district officials have countered that the statute is clear in stating there would be no automatic renewals, noting that amendments offered to soften the language have regularly been defeated. The Pasco County school district has taken that line of reasoning in the face of union demands.

This bill could clarify the issue once and for all. It does not yet have a Senate companion, though, and Grant does not sit on any education-related committees.

[Last modified: Monday, January 23, 2017 3:32pm]

    

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