NCAE Grapples Over Personal Leave Pay (N&R)

http://www.bobszy.net/real-estate-images/ncae.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Today’s N&R covers the ongoing struggle over teachers having to pay to use personal leave. The NCAE is behind a move to ask legislators to reverse this decades-old requirement to pay a $50 fee to reimburse substitutes to use their own personal days.

I never thought this requirement was fair, and I think the NCAE is right in supporting this change.

N&R:

North Carolina teachers have used personal days to attend funerals and court hearings, assist friends during medical procedures and participate in training — a privilege that costs them $50 a day.

Teachers are now asking legislators to end the decades-old requirement that they pay a fee for taking those days off.

The N.C. Association of Educators has circulated a petition requesting that the state waive the fee for up to two days per academic year.

“We’re not asking for the full five (days) because we thought getting something would be better than what we currently have,” said Eddie Davis , NCAE president.

The state provides personal leave days to allow for absences when neither sick time nor annual leave can be used. Teachers can accumulate up to five personal days per academic year.

Tammy Shaney , a Northeast Guilford Middle School teacher who has signed the petition, said she sees the fee as a disincentive for recruiting educators to the state.

NCAE found that 32 of 35 surveyed states do not require a fee for their teachers. North Carolina levies the fee even if a substitute is not hired but recently started allowing teachers to convert unused personal days to sick leave as an incentive to keep them in schools.

“I don’t know of any teacher who does not support this entire idea,” Shaney said about the petition request. “We’ve got to find ways to make North Carolina stand out from the states around us to reduce our teacher shortage.”

Some legislators also hope to revive House and Senate bills that were filed last year but didn’t survive budget negotiations. They estimate removing the fee would cost the state about $12 million per year if every teacher used two personal days.

Guilford County Schools estimates that it could cost the district roughly $200,000 in additional local money to hire substitutes.

Sen. Tony Rand said the bill he sponsored stalled because legislators were preoccupied with mental health and high school reform costs.

“It just got mixed up in the clutter at the end of the session and it just didn’t get done,” said Rand, who represents Bladen and Cumberland counties.

Michael Moser , a teacher at Kernodle Middle School, called the fee requirement contradictory. Moser, who last used two to three personal days in December 2006 to rebuild hurricane-damaged homes in Mississippi, said about 50 employees at his school have signed the petition.

“They say we earn personal leave, and then we have to pay to take the personal leave,” Moser said.

The Guilford County Board of Education discussed the fee briefly at its meeting last week but did not vote to support the concept of removing the fee. Member Dot Kearns cited local budget constraints as a concern.

“Everyone would like to provide more support for teachers,” Kearns said. “I think no one was willing to say we will take on the additional $200,000 at this point.”

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Is it me, or did it seem like Dot wimped out here? Take a stand. Will you or won’t you?
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E.C. )

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