Virginia teachers will no longer be eligible to receive continuing contracts after three years, following the passage of the Educator Fairness Act by the Senate on Monday.
The act, one piece of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s All Students K-12 legislative agenda, extends the probationary window from three to five years “to allow for a more thoughtful examination of teachers being awarded continuing contract status,” according to a release from McDonnell’s office.
In addition to extending the probationary period, the act provided a definition of incompetence as including “one or more unsatisfactory performance evaluations” and defines the relationship between the evaluation and the contract. The grievance procedure will also be streamlined and allows for teachers to learn the final outcome of their evaluation faster.
Passage of the Educator Fairness Act also paves the way for the General Assembly to approve funding for 2 percent salary increases for educators filling state-required positions. McDonnell said the proposed salary increases were contingent on the passage of the Fairness Act.
The funding for the 2 percent salary increases will have to be matched by school divisions. Locally, both Williamsburg-James City County and York County schools want to extend the increase to all employees, beyond those required by the state. For York County, that could cost $1.5 million, while it would cost WJCC $1.6 million.
In a statement, McDonnell said Monday that he plans to sign the legislation “as soon as it gets to my desk.” “These reforms will result in teacher contracts that are fairer, clearer and will result in giving our students more capable and better-trained educators in the classroom,” he said.