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The Senate approved a bill Friday that would prohibit school districts from paying teachers on leave from the classroom to perform union duties.

The Senate voted 16-8 on Friday to pass HB183, which would make it illegal for districts to pay teachers on union leave when they perform duties that don't directly benefit the district. The House also has already passed the bill, but it now must go back to the House for approval of changes made in the Senate before it can go to the governor for his signature.

Now, three Utah districts — Salt Lake, Granite and Davis — pay a portion of their local union presidents' salaries, though the employees are on leave from teaching, and the union pays the rest of their salaries according to contract agreements.

The bill's proponents say that money should stay in the classroom. Opponents, however, have said many of those local presidents' duties, such as serving on district committees and helping teachers and districts work out issues, benefit school districts and the issue should be decided on a local level.

The bill originally would have required teachers or unions to reimburse districts for unpaid association leaves of more than 10 days. But senators amended the bill Friday to require teachers or unions to reimburse districts for the costs all unpaid union leave, not just leave beyond 10 days.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said he worried that, without the amendment, some districts would have to make their policies less restrictive than they are now. "In a perfect world, for me, taxpayers wouldn't pay any of those leave days and the union would have to pay for them," he said.

Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, Senate floor sponsor of the bill, said the 10 days were originally added as part of earlier negotiations over the bill. This is the third year lawmakers have attempted to pass a bill prohibiting paid union leaves for teachers.