Country 93

Country 93

Monday, April 15, 2019

Absences of Teachers in Bluewater is Pricey

Bruce Grey | by John Divinski  

The board has budgeted 6.8-million-dollars for the growing cost

It's happening at the Bluewater Board of Education and it's happening across the province.

At the April 2nd meeting of the board's Business Committee, it was learned projected costs for this fiscal year could total just over 6.9-million-dollars, with over 4.5-million, attributed to teacher absences.

The board had budgeted 6.8-million-dollars but the fact is the cost has been growing for years with a report showing costs have increased almost a million-and-a-half-dollars since the 2014-15 school year.

Director of Education Alana Murray says Bluewater's absence rate is lower than the provincial average however, being a small school board, it's tough to find the money to pay for the additional resources.

Murray goes on to say, the absenteeism can be partially attributed to the changing dynamics of personal lives of teachers and their aging relatives.

She says many employees are looking after aging parents and other family obligations, which can create absences from work.

Murray says in addition, teachers can no longer bank sick days that would count towards their eventual retirment.

She says it's come down to a "Use it or lose it scenario" which she believes is contributing to the absenteeism rate, which she says has grown to about 13 sick days a year per employee on average.

Teachers have in their contract, 11-days sick leave at 100% salary and 120-days at 90% salary.

Murray says with the increased cost comes the challenge of finding the funds to cover it and sometimes it comes from money that might be better spent on enhancing education programs for students.

Murray predicts this issue will likely become a talking point when teachers unions and the province sit down to iron out new contracts.

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