Updated: 07/31/2014 6:24 PM
Created: 07/30/2014 5:00 AM WHEC.com
By: Nikki Rudd
Teachers have a very important job in our community. But what happens when they don’t show up for class? Teachers skipping school is an issue in some districts.
Generally, teachers work about 180 days out of the year. They also get spring break, winter recess and holidays, but what about sick days?
News10NBC read through all 122 pages of the Rochester Teachers’ Association contract. We found out that some teachers can accumulate up to 150 paid sick days.
Each year, city school teachers get ten sick days and two personal days. If a teacher does not use their sick time, it rolls over to the next year. It can add up to 150 paid sick days. This was all approved by the Rochester Board of Education.
News10NBC took this concern to the Rochester Teachers’ Association. They are the union that represents the more than 3,000 teachers in the city school district.
Nikki Rudd asked, “Why do they get all these sick days?”
John Pavone, Rochester Teachers’ Association First Vice President, said, “For when they get sick! You can't predict I’m only going to get sick in the summer; I’m only going to get sick during winter recess. When you are sick, you need to stay home.”
Pavone says this benefit was negotiated very early on. Pavone says he has seen teachers with major health issues use that paid sick time when they need it.
Pavone said, “I do not think that system is abused. Teachers are very dedicated people and they probably show up on the job more than other professions.”
Rochester teachers are not alone. This is a common practice among school districts. In Buffalo, teachers can accumulate 220 sick days. In Syracuse, it is unlimited.
Nadia Fayad said, “My mother is a teacher so I definitely agree with it. They work hard and if they are sick, they are sick. They do not get paid much as it is.”
City school teachers start at more than $42,000. The average salary is nearly $59,000.
Howard Maffucci, School Administrators Association, said, “The fact remains that the total compensation package for professional educators is very attractive today.”
Maffucci is the former superintendent of the East Rochester School District and has been in the education field in our area for nearly 40 years.
Maffucci said, “Paid sick time is a very generous benefit, especially in this day and age.”
When a teacher is out sick, a substitute teacher has to be called in. According to district officials, the estimated cost for substitutes next school year is more than nine and a half million dollars.
Teacher Absentee Reduction Plan
News10NBC found out there is a special program in the city school district to cut down on teachers taking sick days. The Teacher Absentee Reduction Plan is where teachers are paid for unused sick days.
Felix Jacobs has a son who is going into the eighth grade at School No. 58. He serves on the Parent Advisory Council. News10NBC asked him about the Teacher Absentee Reduction Plan.
Jacobs said, “The whole concept is just wrong. To be in there offering that type of inducement for teachers just to show up for what they are being paid to do nine months out of the year anyway, it is just wrong.”
The plan was put in the Rochester Teachers’ Association contract in 2004.
Pavone said, “The Rochester City School District always wants to reduce the amount of time teachers take for sick days.”
Each year, teachers get ten sick days. If a teacher does not use any of that sick time during the school year, they get paid $115 for each unused sick day. That is on top of their salary.
Pavone said, “The incentive is not to take days. We want you to take days if you are sick, of course, but what this is geared towards is for people who take days just because they want a day off.”
Teachers are also paid for taking only one, two or three sick days a year, but at a lower level.
There are some requirements under the plan. Teachers have to be tenured and work for the district for ten continuous years. The maximum payout when they retire or resign is $25,000.
Maffucci says teacher salaries are very competitive.
Maffucci said, “So getting paid for not using sick time, which having paid sick time is a great benefit, seems a bit over the top this day and age.”
Pavone says since this plan has been in place, teachers have been more selective about when they use sick days. Teachers in Syracuse and Buffalo can also cash out for unused sick days at the end of their careers.
Pavone said, “We want teachers to use their sick days when they are sick. That is what they are there for. This incentive will help the district save money.”
Jacobs said, “I mean I did not flunk math, but that to me, when you are paying more on top of what you are already paying, that is not saving. That is an illusion and confusion.”
Jacobs says costs are out of control in the district and deals like this are not helping.
This is all in the Rochester Teachers’ Association contract. The Rochester City School Board signed off on all these benefits. News10NBC contacted Rochester City School Board President Van White. He says he wants some time to review the information before commenting.
If you would like to voice your opinion about the Teacher Absentee Reduction Plan, you can contact your school board member.
The next board meeting is August 21.