Local Politics

Bill Would End Docking Teachers for Days Off

Posted March 3, 2008 6:41 p.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2008 7:07 p.m. EST

— 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."