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Testing reform bill poisoned with intrusions and prohibitions on bargaining


SB 566 – Testing (Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen) was heard Wednesday in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. The bill was voted out of committee and recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee due to its fiscal impact.


SB 566 is much more than a testing bill. It diminishes teachers' bargaining rights.


Four major items need to be removed from SB 566.

1)    A change in the definition of deficit financing by a school corporation

2)    Changes to the bargaining of performance pay bonuses and master's degrees

3)    Provisions for innovative school networks

4)    An expansion of IEERB (Indiana Education Employee Relations Board) and its role in individual teacher contracts and Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs)


Currently, deficit financing is determined by a certain date so that both the board and the association can negotiate and secure the terms of the agreement for a year. If passed, this provision would allow the administration to manipulate the definition of deficit financing. It would give the employer complete control over spending after the contract has been agreed to. Therefore, allowing board to trump the master agreement every time the district makes expenditures it could be argued that it places it in a deficit.


This bill prohibits the association to bargain performance pay and master’s degree supplements. IEERB has already determined that performance pay is a wage-related issue, making it a mandatory subject of bargaining. Removing these items from bargaining further reduces teachers' ability to have a say in how they are compensated.


SB 566 expands the Innovative Network Schools statewide. This mirrors the law that was enacted for IPS last year and enables local school boards to reconstitute an existing public school within the district or contract out a school to a special management team. Though this bill gives permission for employees to bargain collectively, they will be at-will employees since they are treated like charter school employees.


This bill increases bureaucratic control over CBAs and individual teacher contracts. It sets up a process through which IEERB has control not only over the content of CBAs, but also the laws dealing with individual teacher contracts. This is an unnecessary expansion of state control. IEERB is designed to be a neutral agency. This expansion of duties puts IEERB in both the judge and jury role.        


ACTION: Please contact every member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and urge them to limit SB 566 to reforming testing and not to poison it with intrusions and prohibitions on bargaining and association issues.