A bill that changes the way school districts handle teacher layoffs passed the Minnesota House Thursday.
Supporters of the measure say it will help retain the most effective teachers in public school classrooms.
Under the bill, school administrators must weigh the results of performance evaluations when making layoff decisions. Seniority would no longer be the only factor. Under current layoff scenarios, the most recently-hired teachers are the first to lose their jobs.
"Teacher performance, as it relates to student learning, ought to be the number one consideration, not a cut-and-dried mandate that says seniority should be the only consideration," said Rep. Brandon Peterson, R-Andover.
The bill mandates school districts to have the new rules to be in place by the fall of 2016. The bill passed with a vote of 68-61.
Republican supporters said the change will help retain the most effective teachers in classrooms.
But several Democrats who voted against the bill said there were still too many unresolved issues about how the evaluation process might work.
Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said the bill was not thoroughly vetted and needs more work.
"If it's important to ensure that we have the most effective teachers in Minnesota's classrooms and retain them when our state funding falls short and layoffs are required, then it's important to get the process right," Davnie said.