Strategic Planning for SB5 and the Budget Bill

S.B. 5 is scheduled to become law on July 1, 2011.  The General Assembly also is expected to enact the budget bill in June, with an effective date in September.  These bills will make dramatic changes affecting important personnel and policy issues.  The purpose of this Legal Update is to identify several key strategic planning questions that boards of education and administrators should begin to consider now.

Administrator ContractsMany administrator and non-union classified employment contracts confer benefits “pursuant to” or “in accordance with” statutes, board policies or collective bargaining agreements.  Many of these provisions will be impacted by S.B. 5.  Boards also frequently grant benefits by adopting resolutions that are ever incorporated into employment contracts and, of course, S.B. 5 will prohibit boards from picking up an employee’s share of retirement contributions through contracts entered into after June 30.  Many boards want to allow administrators and other non-union employees to retain their current benefits, to the extent it is possible to do so, and most boards want to avoid the confusion and uncertainty S.B. 5 will create about benefit issues.  We recommend that school officials review employment contracts with legal counsel, and that boards enter into amended contracts making any necessary changes by June 30, 2011.

General Leave Policies:  S.B. 5 will amend R.C. 3319.141 to require boards to adopt a new “general leave” policy addressing paid leaves of absence for all non-union employees, including administrators.  The bill will have a tremendous impact on paid leaves for these employee groups.  For example, the bill caps annual sick leave accrual at ten (10) days per year, instead of the current limit of fifteen (15) days.  The bill also requires that the policy be “uniformly administered.”  This new law will create many questions:  Can a board replace various types of paid leave with general paid time off?  Can a board grant greater benefits to 12 month employees than to 9 month employees?  Can it give more generous benefits to administrators than to other  non-union employees? What impact will a general leave policy have on other policies, individual employment contracts and perhaps even labor contracts?  We recommend that boards and administrators have counsel draft or review general leave policies to minimize unintended consequences. 

Administrator Training:  Even if S.B. 5 is delayed because of the attempted voter referendum, the bill will become law after November 8, 2011 if the referendum fails.  The budget bill also will substantially affect how teachers are evaluated and compensated, and these changes will become law unless organized labor places a second referendum on the ballot.  With change the only certainty, administrators will have many questions about these new laws, and they need to consider how these changes will very quickly impact daily duties, such as the evaluation of teachers and principals.  We encourage districts to schedule a legal update on S.B. 5 and the budget bill as part of an annual administrator retreat or at a local or joint (ESC or career center sponsored) in-service this summer or fall.

If you have questions about these matters, or other concerns about S.B. 5 and the budget bill, please contact us at your convenience.

This Legal Update is intended as general information and should not be relied upon
as legal advice.  If advice is required, please contact us at (614) 222-8686 or via email:

Julia A. Bauer                                        
Derek L. Haggerty                                 
Julie C. Martin                                       
Jessica K. Philemond                            
Gregory B. Scott                                   
Patrick J. Schmitz (author)                    
Donald C. Scriven                                 
Jennifer I. Stiff                                       
James K. Stucko                                   
Derek L. Towster