Local Politics

Bill Would End Docking Teachers for Days Off

Posted March 3, 2008

— North Carolina is the only state with a policy requiring teachers to lose pay on personal days off, according to a state education organization, and some state lawmakers want to lose that distinction.

State law requires teachers to pay $50 toward hiring a substitute when they take a day off for personal reasons on a scheduled class day.

"It is insulting, almost, to have a personal day and they charge you $50," said Carol Pearce, an instructional resource teacher in Wake County.

State Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, is sponsoring House Bill 906 to rescind that provision. The proposal has bipartisan support but died in the House Appropriations Committee last year because of estimates that it could cost the state more than $11 million a year to pick up the full cost of hiring substitute teachers to cover classes.

State Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg, questions whether the change is needed.

"If you add up all the days teachers are allowed to be out of district, it's a significant amount of time," Killian said, including 10 sick days, 10 to 25 vacation days and two to five personal days. "I think teachers are treated very favorably in North Carolina."

Teachers can take earned vacation time only on scheduled teacher work days. Pearce said teachers might resort to calling in sick to get the time off they need to attend a funeral, see a new grandchild or close on a home.

"It seems like you're cheating in that you're using sick days when you're not sick," she said.

The North Carolina Association of Educators plans to press hard for lawmakers to pass Harrell's bill, saying personal time pay cuts are bad for recruiting new teachers.

"It's just not the way we should treat teachers," said Cecil Banks, government relations manager for the educators association. "We need to do everything we can to be in a more competitive position."


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  • racherb Mar 5, 2008

    Maybe we whine more because we are tired...but you know what? We go back and do it day after day--with lousy pay and waining respect--because we care about and love our students. We come back day after day because we want to see our students succeed. We come back day after day because some students need our emotional support. We come back day after day to take care of our students who come to school dirty and hungry. We come back day after day, with change in our pockets to buy lunch for those students who can't bring it, because someone has to fight for what really matters.

    I apologize that this was so long. This is just something I feel passionately about.

    Down to the real issue though: I was shocked when I first found out that I would be charged for taking a personal day. They need to do away with this.

  • racherb Mar 5, 2008

    More than that...your students change! You cannot use the same lesson plans as the previous year when your class make-up is completely different. This year, over 50% of my class receives Special Education services. Nothing I had planned for my class last year works with this group. That's what teaching is!

    Let's see...I work 4 hours extra every day. You know what, I'll say 3 hours average. That's 15 extra hours I put in a week. That's 135 hours per quarter (9 weeks). That's about 16 or so days(and I'm rounding down). I'm at a year-round school, so I have 13 schooldays off before I go back for two workdays and the next quarter begins. If we want to look at hours, I don't get any vacation! That doesn't even count the hours I spend at home working.

  • racherb Mar 5, 2008

    This has been a really discouraging group of comments to read. I have been teaching 4th grade for only three years.

    I have noticed people talking about how much teachers whine. I honestly believe that part of it is bitterness--due to a lack of respect, feeling as if you have no value--that has come about because of comments like the ones here. It's sad that I already feel that as a new teacher. I am passionate about my job. I love being in the classroom with my students and I feel like I come alive when I am able to teach them and connect with them. Then, I leave the building and when someone asks me what I do, I often get a laugh and hear "Must be nice to have an easy job!" I hear this OFTEN--from strangers usually!

    Someone talked about how they don't buy that teachers have to spend 3-4 hours at school after the bell rings. Our bell rings at 2:15. I have yet to leave school before 6:00. You can't reuse lesson plans year after year. The curriculum changes, first of all. More than

  • Amruby Mar 4, 2008

    WCNC--Do your homework. Have you checked out the pay grades for teachers lately. I have taught 23 years I just made $40K a year ago. It takes a lot of years to build up to the pay that you are talking about. There is a teacher at our school who is lateral entry--coming from another field. He is taking education classes at his own expense to get certified. He is being paid at level 1 and has 5 kids. He has to get subsistence help to survive in order to work and go to school. I have worked a second job for years to provide the basic necessities for my family. I drive a 10 year old car and live in a 35 year old house. I work 7 days a week and all holidays to keep a roof over my head. The 6 weeks that I have off from school in the summer is spent going to summer school to renew my teaching certificate. I even get called back to work during the summer to meet with parents with no pay. Unless you have walked a mile in our shoes--bug off.

  • wcnc Mar 4, 2008

    "they even get emails stating unless it is an emergency you must present a doctor's note upon returning to school. "

    Yeah, like everyone goes to the doctor every time they get sick!! So, to prove you're telling the truth, you have to spend money!! From what I hear, teacher's health insurance isn't too great.....what a joke.

    Hopefully this law will pass and make everyone happy. Those who support this will be happy and those who think teachers whine will be happy in that teachers will have one less thing to whine about!!

  • mmafighterwife Mar 4, 2008

    As a wife of a teacher, we recently had a baby and my husband had to take personal time because he could not call in sick or as vacation because everyone knew of his situation and he had to pay for a substitute teacher and did not get paid for the days he was out. It is a problem where he works with teachers calling in sick especially on Friday's or Monday's, they even get emails stating unless it is an emergency you must present a doctor's note upon returning to school. I can see docking the pay for someone who uses their time frequently, but for those who choose to use it wisely I can see changing the bill however I think they need to treat all state employees the same.

  • civilservant01 Mar 4, 2008

    I guess you're also referring to MALE teachers when you state that "teachers" certainly have time to schedule HAIR & NAIL appts. Correct??

    Kinda sexist on your part. I was a teacher & quit years ago and it was difficult to find time during the school year to take off days when I needed to do something that couldn't wait til' the weekend or a teacher workday. And yes, I did take a sick day when I had something I had to do as opposed to taking a personal day and paying a sub $50 out of my hard-earned paycheck. The fact that teachers don't get paid personal days does contribute to sick day abuse. I abused it and you would too if you had to pay every time you needed a day off during a scheduled school day. Stuff happens & you have to be off work. It's either pay for the day or call in sick. It was an easy choice for me. I hope the Bill passes to help keep the hair and nail salons in business. :-)

  • wcnc Mar 4, 2008

    "Then it is up to the employee to budget their money for the other two months. That really isn't a problem unless you can't handle money well. "

    Well, yeah, it's up to EVERY employee to budget their money. If they can't and they happen to be a teacher, I don't care, that's their problem!!

    If a teacher is making $40k per year and they are getting it in 10 checks, how is that too much different from any other employee making $40k in 12 checks?? The teacher either works another job during the other 2 months or budgets accordingly....Not my fault if they don't do either.....

  • bartcow Mar 4, 2008

    JAT, I knew the whining class line was a joke. I was just using it to springboard to my point that it certainly is a perception that many people have, which thanks to some we have earned, even if we don't all deserve it.

  • wcnc Mar 4, 2008

    For the teachers- when you have to pay the $50 for the sub, do you still get paid for that day (like people do when they get vacation days) and you take $50 less, or do you NOT get paid and STILL owe the $50???

    I will still say teachers shouldn't have to pay for their subs....

    BUT, when some teachers and others on here are complaining about lack of parental involvement--- don't you realize some of those parents who are not involved are working jobs where they get NO paid time off, so if they were to take a day off for a conference or to volunteer, they would NOT get paid for that day??? So, other people are affected by a similar situation, not just teachers.

    Teaching is a VERY difficult job, but most teachers DO have 2 months off for the summer and deal with the salary issues by getting a job then, having their spouse work, tutoring after school, coaching, etc. There are ways aroundthe salary issue if someone really wants to teach- and we DO want those who REALLY WANT to teach!!