TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Senate is set to vote on a modified version of a teacher merit pay and tenure bill that former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed last year after widespread protests.

The measure (SB 736) will be up for a vote Thursday.

In debate Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected Democratic Sen. Bill Montford's effort to soften a ban on tenure for teachers hired after July 1.

His amendment would have let highly rated teachers get three-year contracts after a third year in the classroom.

Montford, also CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, said that would prevent top teachers from leaving and give them enough job security to get mortgages.

Opponents said it would just be another form of tenure.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)