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HOUSTON – As school districts across Texas brace for state budget cuts, thousands of senior teaching jobs are safe.

At least for now.

by Gabe Gutierrez / 11 News

That’s because many of the most experienced teachers in Texas have “continuing contracts” – deals that were struck more than a decade ago to help retain them. The contracts been replaced by almost every district in the state – partly because Texas has become increasingly anti-union.

The board of education for the Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District just voted to eliminate such contracts last week. The Houston Independent School District, the state’s largest, hasn’t allowed them for new teachers for more than a decade.

But when the contracts were eliminated, teachers were grandfathered in. That means that in HISD, about a quarter of current teachers still have them, according to a recent report by The Texas Tribune.

In the Cy-Fair Independent School District, that number shoots up to 70 percent – about 4,800 of the district’s 6,800 teachers have the so-called continuing contracts.

Critics call the contracts the equivalent of tenure, meaning that teachers who have them can’t be laid off, except in extreme circumstances. The contracts automatically renew every year.

“I don’t think teachers should be guaranteed a job just because they chose a profession,” said Sandra Braddy, a parent of former students at Cy-Fair ISD. “I think they should have to be a quality teacher.”

But teachers’ unions argue that’s exactly what the contracts were for – ensuring that quality teachers stuck around.

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