The Gilbert Unified School District is supporting two different legislative bills that would allow the district to participate in the state’s Career Ladder program.
The Career Ladder program, which is available to only 28 of Arizona’s nearly 240 school districts, provides incentive and performance pay for teachers.
The district sued the Department of Education and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, claiming the program violates the Arizona Constitution’s requirement that the state’s school-financing plan be general and uniform.
But Gilbert district officials indicated Tuesday that the new legislation would open the performance-pay program to all school districts and likely eliminate the lawsuit.
The district’s governing board voted 2-1 to stand behind the bills, but also expressed concern about supporting legislation that isn’t, at this time, exactly what the district is looking for.
House Bill 2801, sponsored by Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, would open the program to other districts after a public vote.
But getting voters to approve anything that would raise their taxes will be difficult, said school board President Helen Hollands, who voted against supporting the proposed bills.
The other bill, Senate Bill 1488, is sponsored by Sen. Tim Bee, R-Tucson, and is supported by 14 school districts. That bill would not require voter approval since the money would come from the state’s General Fund. But funding would have to be approved each year by the Legislature.
If both bills continue through the Legislature, they will likely be combined into an acceptable version to the district, said Kevin DeMenna, the school district’s lobbyist.
Supporting both will ensure that negotiations continue, DeMenna told the board.