Bill calling for statewide teachers contract gets cool reception
AUGUSTA — A bill authorizing the state to negotiate a statewide teachers contract got a chilly reception at a public hearing Thursday, while backers said it would save districts money and stabilize teacher pay.
Under L.D. 864, local school boards and superintendents would still hire teachers. But once they’re hired, the state would pay for salary and benefits based on a contract collectively bargained between the state and the Maine Education Association.
“If all of our teachers are expected to produce the same results – a high quality education for all Maine kids – why are we not compensating them equitably?” bill sponsor Rep. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, asked members of the Legislature’s Education Committee. “We need to shrink the hiring gap that exists between poorer and affluent communities. I think this will help.”
But opponents, including the MEA, said the bill doesn’t provide any guarantee that starting teacher pay would increase, takes local control away from districts and does not spell out how the state would pay for it.