Larry Feinsod, President of the New Jersey School Boards Association, has a new column up that reiterates NJSBA’s long-standing position that seniority-based lay-offs are contrary to the best interests of students. The Association, which represents N.J.’s 591 local school boards, has long maintained that the best practice for retaining great teachers is five-year renewable contracts, not lifelong job security. In fact, the State Legislature came tantalizing close to eliminating LIFO in 2012 but backed down in deference to NJEA.
Dr. Feinsod describes the daunting fiscal challenges facing local districts: a 2% tax increase cap (coupled with annual staff salary increases that are creeping up above 2.6%), unfunded mandates, and decreasing student enrollment, projected to drop by more than 3% through 2024. Yet,
Current statute and regulation make length of service (“last in, first out” or LIFO)—and not job performance—the controlling factor when determining which tenured teachers remain on staff following a reduction in force. This requirement ties school leaders’ hands in retaining the best qualified staff members…
A local school board should be able to rely upon criteria such as a staff member’s teaching experience and job performance when implementing a reduction in force. It’s a sound management practice and would help ensure that difficult staffing decisions are made in our students’ best interest.
If we are truthful and sincere about our primary mission to improve student achievement, we must ensure that the people and the process of instruction are top grade. Elimination of LIFO is the next logical step in fulfilling our commitment to student achievement.