SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Springfield Public School board on Tuesday approved a new policy that would penalize teachers for breaking their contract too early.

The Deputy Superintendent for SPS said penalties are common in many school districts, but the President of Springfield’s National Education Association union said the change may force some school employees to make decisions about their future before they are ready.

The revised policy passed by school board members Tuesday night states the district is entitled to compensation for finding a replacement for a teacher, as well as training for that replacement.

“When you sign a contract, you’re making a commitment,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. John Mulford. “And when you break a contract, you’re hurting kids and you’re hurting your colleagues.”

Mulford said the penalty teachers face for breaking their contract increases the closer they get to the upcoming school year until it reaches $3,000.

“The reason you see an increase in the monetary amount is because the closer we get to school, the harder it is to replace or replace people,” said Mulford. “And the greater the chance of a negative impact on students and the colleagues of that person who is seeking to break the contract “

The policy says the district may deduct the money from teachers’ paychecks, and if that is not an option the employee would have to pay the district back within three months.

Dr. Mulford said penalties can be avoided in certain situations.

“Someone gets really sick over the summer and they’re just not able to come back,” Mulford said. “We’re not going to enforce a penalty for that person or military. Someone gets deployed Things like that.”

Laura Mullins, the President of the Springfield National Education Association said the policy allows everyone to be on the same page.

“The language was already in the board policy,” Mullins said. “And this is kind of just defining it, I think, providing some clarity around it. . And so those things just kind of defining it so that everybody’s on the same page.”