House Republicans renewed their call for a voluntary statewide teacher contract, insisting that the bill be part of the education reforms included in any budget proposal that House Republicans will support.
Currently, Maine teacher contracts are negotiated with officials from each individual school district. This bill would authorize the State of Maine to bargain for a statewide educator contract that chooses to opt-in for standard salary and benefits in Maine’s public schools, giving the state the opportunity to put more money into the classroom – where it belongs. An amendment added by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Pouliot of Augusta focuses the bill on the economically disadvantaged districts, allowing school districts to opt-in or keep the status quo arrangement.
For districts whose school boards choose to participate in the statewide teacher contracts, local schoolboards and superintendents would still hire their teachers based on the student-teacher ratios but once they’re hired, the state would pay their salary and benefits based on a contract collectively bargained between the state and the Maine Education Association.
“For decades, high quality teachers in Maine have been lured away from poor districts to more wealthy districts that can afford to pay better salary and benefits,” said Rep. Pouliot. “This bill would ensure that districts can compete with salary and benefits for their teachers by negotiating those contracts with the state, which would be responsible for covering those costs and removing the burden from the property tax.”
“The most important asset in our education system is a good teacher in the classroom,” said Rep. Phyllis Ginzler, the ranking House Republican on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. “We need to do everything we can to attract and retain good teachers throughout our state. Every Maine student has the right to a good education, regardless of their zip code.”