Senate Bill 8 goes to conference committee

Senate Bill 8, which allows school districts to cut teachers’ pay and weakens teachers’ employment rights, was sent to a conference committee by the Senate on Monday. This means that some of the amendments that worsened the bill in the House may be dropped in the final version of the legislation.

But in the case of this piece of legislation, no bill is better than any bill. So, keep calling your state representatives to demand they vote AGAINST the final version of Senate Bill 8 when it returns to the House floor. Call on the toll-free number, 800-260-5444.

The special session must end by next Wednesday, June 29.

The Senate conferees on SB8, all Republicans, are Sens. Florence Shapiro of Plano, Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, Kel Seliger of Amarillo and Dan Patrick of Houston.

The Senate instructed the conferees to remove one of the House amendments, a provision that would require school districts to notify employees annually of the amount of membership dues or fees that are being automatically deducted from their paychecks. Senators agreed that amendment was not germane to the rest of the bill.

The Senate also sent Senate Bill 6, the instructional allotments bill, to a conference committee. At the request of Sen. Shapiro, senators instructed the SB6 conferees to remove an amendment placed on the bill by House Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler of The Woodlands to weaken some of the new, end-of-course exam requirements for next year. Shapiro said the amendment wasn’t germane to the bill.

The Senate Bill 6 conferees are Shapiro, Nelson, Patrick, Sen. Chris Harris, R-Arlington, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio.

House conferees on SB8 and SB6 will probably be named on Tuesday.

The House postponed debate Monday on two anti-teacher bills – House Bill 20 by Rep. Dan Huberty and House 21 by Rep. Mark Shelton – since both are now part of Senate Bill 8. HB20 would give teachers whose contracts are not renewed less notification time, and HB21 would remove seniority as a factor in determining dismissals when districts impose reductions in force.

Provisions in SB8 include:

  • Allows districts to order furloughs for teachers and administrators for as many as six non-instructional days and reduce their pay accordingly.
  • Repeals the 2009 salary floor for returning teachers. This would allow districts to reduce pay for all teachers.
  • Freezes the state minimum salary schedule at 2010-11 levels.
  • Moves the deadline for notification of contract non-renewal from the 45th day to the 10th day before the end of instruction, giving laid-off teachers less time to find jobs for the next school year.
  • Allows school districts to declare financial emergencies at any time for purposes of imposing reductions in force and eliminates seniority as a factor in determining dismissals when RIFs are implemented.
  • Repeals a terminated teacher’s right to a hearing before an independent hearing officer.
  • Adds another provision for districts to use in seeking a waiver from the 22-1 class size cap in K-4.
  • Most of these changes will be PERMANENT. They won’t end when the budget crisis ends.
  • Keep calling your state representatives, demanding votes AGAINST Senate Bill 8!