Despite Reservations, Gov. Wolf To Let Schools Bill Become Law

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) – Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will let a sprawling schools bill become law without his signature, saying it has provisions he likes, but also provisions backed by lawmakers who he says prioritize making the jobs of teachers harder.

Instead of having to raise property taxes or cut programs to save money, school districts will now be able to furlough teachers, and those furloughs will be based mostly on performance, not seniority.

“If anyone is going to be laid off, it should be based, not just on seniority, it should be performance. Everybody should be accountable for what they do no matter what, but you should still be committed to people that have put in their time,” said Bethel Park parent Tommy Lach.

Parents in Bethel Park reacted at Friday night’s football game to the governor’s decision to allow the controversial education bill to become law. School districts will now be able furlough teachers for budget reasons and layoffs will be based on performance, not seniority.

Teachers’ unions are not happy, but parents KDKA spoke to, don’t seem to mind.

“I think if you’re going to teach, you should teach; and I think that if I’m sending my child to school to learn, then you should be able to teach them and learn,” said Penn Hills parent Rae-Ann Green.

While the governor doesn’t support the furloughs, there were other parts of the bill he feels are important including delaying the Keystone Exams and expanding opioid education in schools.

The bill will also end “lunch shaming” by requiring schools to provide meals to any student who requests one.

A spokesperson says Gov. Wolf will continue to protect and invest in education.

“Look at the state of education today. We’re raising kids that go out into the world and produce,” said Green.

Seniority would come into play if two teachers had the same performance rating, and reinstatement of furloughed teachers will be done in reverse order.

The bill becomes law on Monday.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed it last month. Only four Democrats voted for it.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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