Eye on Education



Ohio's SB 5, Explained


J.D. Pooley / Getty Imanges

Protesters against Senate Bill 5 display make their way into the Statehouse during a February 2011 rally in Columbus, Ohio.

Senate Bill 5 (SB 5) was signed into law on March 31, 2011, by Governor John Kasich. It limited collective bargaining for public employee unions. That meant police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees would not have been able to negotiate for healthcare benefits or pensions costs, though they could still bargain over some areas. It also allowed public employers to not bargain over wages and contained an array of changes to Ohio’s current laws, including many changes affecting teachers and school districts.

After a statewide repeal campaign financed largely by labor unions, voters in the November 2011 general election supported repealing the law 62 percent to 38 percent.

SB 5 contained many changes to Ohio’s current laws. In regard to teachers and school districts in particular, SB 5 would:

  • Prohibit public employees from striking;
  • Prohibit employees of some charter schools from collectively bargaining;
  • Permit public employers to not bargain on subjects affecting wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment;
  • Prohibit most public schools from entering into collective bargaining agreements that do certain things, such as establishing maximum class sizes;
  • Limit, for new collective bargaining agreements, sick leave payouts and the amounts of certain types of leave that can be accrued;
  • Eliminate statutory salary schedules and require performance-based pay for teachers based in part on student performance;
  • Limit public employer contributions toward health care benefit costs to 85 percent;
  • Eliminate the current rules about leave that apply to teachers and authorize each board of education to set its own leave policies;
  • Abolish continuing contracts for teachers, except for those continuing contracts in existence prior July 2011, and revise rules about limited contracts; and
  • Remove consideration of seniority and length of service, by itself, from decisions regarding layoffs.

J.D. Pooley / Getty Images

State Sen. Shannon Jones (R-OH), pictured during a February 22, 2011 senate committee hearing, introduced Senate Bill 5.

SB 5′s elimination of the annual “step” raises that teachers usually receive and its required creation of a performance pay system was put on hold pending the outcome of the November referendum and, with the November 2011 elections results, will not take effect. However, efforts to change how Ohio teachers are evaluated and paid continued to move forward under a separate piece of legislation.

House Bill 153, the main operating budget for the two fiscal years starting in July 2011, required the State Board of Education to develop a new teacher evaluation system under which half of a teacher’s rating would be based on student performance. HB 153 also required districts receiving Race to the Top money to use a teacher performance pay system based on that new teacher evaluation system.

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