The Republican-led House on Thursday sent back to committee a bill that would revise teacher seniority rules, requiring that teacher performance be considered during staff reductions.

Minnesota is one of fewer than a dozen states where a teacher’s job security during staff cuts is determined largely by the date he or she was hired. Between 2008 and 2013, nearly 2,200 teachers were laid off under the so-called "last in, first out" provision in state law and in locally-negotiated teaching contracts. 

Responding to a fiscal analysis that found that legislation would cost the state $895,000 over the next two years to carry out provisions of the bill, the House voted to re-refer the measure to the House Ways and Means Committee. The fiscal note was published shortly before the House session convened.

The House action follows a recent Star Tribune review of 114 local teaching contracts that found that school districts rarely deviate from the seniority standard in state law even when they can. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, would also make it easier for out-of-state teachers to become licensed in Minnesota. Supporters of this part of the bill say the current process for out-of-state educators is overly complicated and often requires applicants to hire lawyers to secure a state teaching license. 

Education Minnesota, the statewide teachers union, opposes the bill arguing that seniority-guided layoffs provides a stable framework for administrators and keeps the most experienced teachers in the classroom.

It also argues that the bill "would allow educators from other states to teach in Minnesota without having to meet the same standards as educators trained in Minnesota teacher preparation programs."  

This story was updated with the House floor vote to re-refer the bill to the House Ways and Means committee.

Photo: A measure by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, that would end the so-called "last in, first out" policy that guides teacher layoffs, was referred back to a House committee. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune)

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