A highly controversial bill that would allow superintendents to pay some teachers more than others if they’re in hard-to-fill positions is dead, Republican leaders announced today.
House Bill 1004 never got a hearing in the Senate, and Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said Republican leaders decided the bill had failed to win over teachers, who were skeptical that it would help fix shortages in high-need areas such as science and foreign language without hurting teachers in more general teaching jobs.
“The contents of the bill were offered with good intentions of supporting Hoosier teachers, but the effects of the bill have been misperceived by some teachers,” Kruse said in a statement. “As the General Assembly looks for ways to address the shortage of teachers in high-demand fields such as science, math and special education, we need to find solutions that can garner broad support in the teaching community and the legislature.”
The bill, which was vehemently opposed by the state’s two major teachers unions, narrowly passed the House earlier this month 57-42.
The bill would have allowed teachers with high-demand expertise to negotiate outside of the pay scales already negotiated by unions. It also would have offered teachers a choice in the type of pension they receive.
Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the bill’s two main concepts won’t see any further support in the Senate, but the flexibility for negotiating pay for teachers with special skills might still be revived.
Senate Bill 10, which includes similar language to House Bill 1004, is scheduled to be heard in the House Education Committee on Monday. It would also allow district leaders to adjust salaries without union approval.
The Senate bill is even more restrictive, and disliked by union supporters, than the one in the House. Both bills would require superintendents bring a written explanation to their local school boards when they decide to set a teacher’s pay beyond what is specified by the union contract. But the Senate bill would allow that presentation to occur in a private meeting if the board chose. The dead House Bill required the discussion to be held in public.
Rep. Bob Behning, House Education Committee chairman and author of House Bill 1004, said earlier today that he’s not sure what’s going to happen with Senate Bill 10 — but if it did move forward, the pay provision likely would be amended to be identical to that in House Bill 1004. Behning could not be reached Thursday evening for comment.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with Senate Bill 10,” Behning said. “I know there’s some language that Rep. (Jeff) Thompson wants to consider, and there’s some other language that Rep. (Tony) Cook wants to consider, so there’s several other things that we’re looking to do with that.”
Next steps might be tricky. If the House Education Committee passes Senate Bill 10, it goes to the full House for a vote. If the neither the education committee nor the full House amend the bill, it could be approved and sent straight to the governor.
If the bill is changed in any way, the Senate could demand a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions. That could raise the likelihood that the Senate bill also might die without a vote.
Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, said that although her members have hustled over the past couple weeks to call lawmakers and use social media to voice their opposition to the idea of paying some teachers extra beyond the union pay scale, she’s not ready to celebrate until Senate Bill 10 meets a similar fate.
“We don’t know that it’s gone until it’s really gone,” Meredith said. “Until the session is really over, you just don’t know what they’re going to do.”