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Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

St. Henry school board nixes sharing sick leave

By William Kincaid
ST. HENRY - Board of education members unanimously rejected a proposal on Monday night that would have established a sick leave pool for all school employees.
A sick leave pool was to be created in order to loan additional days of sick leave to school employees who experience serious health conditions or whose immediate family member has a serious health condition.
The board's meeting agenda had an item stating "approve the document explaining the sick leave pool as submitted by the sick pool committee."
However, when the item came up, board member Ralph Nietfeld immediately made a motion to reject the proposal, stating the sick pool committee was in fact not in agreement with the proposal. Also, he said the proposal failed to include a payback stipulation, as board members initially insisted on.
Board members previously had said they wanted teachers to pay back any days loaned to them, while the teachers wanted to be able to loan days from one teacher to another with no one having to pay. The teacher who loaned out the days would simply lose them.
The sick leave pool was first brought up during negotiations for a new teachers' contract in 2005. At that time, a committee comprised of Superintendent Rod Moorman, three members of the St. Henry Education Association (teachers' union) and one classified staff member was responsible for developing a plan that would need approval of the association and board.
The board was given the proposal in May, but had not taken any action on it. Earlier this month the St. Henry Education Association sent a letter and another copy of the proposal to the board.
"At this point, given that the committee and the association are in agreement of the final proposal, we are only waiting on the decision of the board," the letter says.
Teacher Joan Albers, a committee member, said she now will discuss the board's rejection of the proposal with the association.
"The board is not against helping somebody," Moorman said this morning.
He said board members want a payback provision - where teachers reimburse the school for borrowing days - in place. He also pointed out that all full-time employees get up to 15 sick days.
Moorman said the first sick pool committee drew up a draft proposal that included a payback provision. However, during the second incarnation of the committee - comprised of Albers, teachers Nancy Mueller and Cindy Piper, Moorman and classified staff member Deb Hemmelgarn - the payback provision was taken out.
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