PHOENIX – State senators refused Thursday to postpone deadlines for teacher layoff notices so school districts don’t have to issue pink slips as they await a new state budget.
Majority Republicans backed the bill, but minority Democrats voted against it. That left the bill short of the two-thirds it needed to take effect immediately and postpone April and May deadlines to mid-June.
The deadlines require teachers to be notified it they may not be offered contracts for the next school year or if their pay will be cut.
Republicans said postponement spares teachers from unnecessary worry. Democrats said teachers deserve early warning to prepare for the worst.
Republicans acknowledged that some teachers could lose their jobs but said postponement would spare a much larger number of teachers – along with parents and students – from unnecessary worry. They also said Democrats want to whip up public angst over the budget for political reasons.
“They’re not all going to lose their jobs but they’re going to think they’ll lose their jobs,” Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City. “They’re going to go through undue grief.”
Democrats said teachers deserve warnings to prepare for the worst. Majority Republicans could relieve uncertainty about teachers’ jobs by releasing figures being used to draft Republican budget proposals not yet unveiled, they said.
“What really needs to happen is for this body to get its act together and get a budget out so that the districts know what they have to work with,” said Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson.
With postponements, teachers “will be wondering until the middle of June if that pink slip is coming,” said Sen. Meg Burton Cahill, D-Tempe.
The bill had support from groups representing school boards and administrators but was opposed by a teachers union, the Arizona Education Association.