Kanawha County School Superintendent Ron Duerring told the Senate Education Committee Tuesday that high absenteeism by some teachers is expensive and hurts education.

Duerring stressed that the majority of teachers and service workers do not abuse leave policies, but some do, and having a substitute just isn’t the same.

“For every day a teacher is out of the classroom that’s one less day that our students have with their regular teacher, and we think that’s important for 180-day instruction that we can have teachers there every day,” Duerring said.

Kanawha County spent more than $4 million last year for substitute teachers.

Duerring attributed part of the problem to teachers beginning the school year with 15 days of sick and personal leave time, which he said encourages absenteeism by some because they have the days upfront.

Instead, he suggested they follow the federal system where teachers and service workers earn time off for each month they work.

Carol Hamric, administrator of Human Resources for the Kanawha County school system, told committee members, “They have these days and they burn them.”


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  • NotTonyCaridi

    It is a mindset. Teachers who miss a lot of work are no different than other "professionals" who miss a lot of work. They view what they do for a living as a "job". Those who rarely miss work (only when death or blood is involved) view what they do for a living as a "career". There is a big difference. Unfortunately we seem to have more of the former in all walks of life these days. Considering the relatively shorter work year of teachers (who have summers off), I suggest decreasing the # of available sick days...say five days....anything more would be."unpaid leave"

    • GW

      Again, NOT days off. These are unpaid days that do not exist in the school calendar. They are more like furlough days. I would gladly stop taking summers "off". Just pay me for days worked. They can have school on snow days, also. Just do not run buses on these days. I will gladly stay and teach the kids whose parents care to drive them to school.

  • Thinkaboutit


  • Ryan

    Mack, This incentive no longer exists for young teachers. They receive no benefit for not using their days. New educators could retire with 800 sick days and get nothing out of them. This is probably why most abuse the system. You use the days or you lose them. Someone on here stated that WV is 47th in the nation in student achievement. A huge reason of this is because we are also 48th in teacher pay! All young quality teachers are leaving the state by the bunches. I know many who live in WV and work in surrounding states because the pay is at least $15,000 more per year. There are currently 600 classrooms state-wide with an uncertified teacher. The teacher shortage problem is only going to get worse as many veteran teachers are retiring. If I were a senator, I would be trying to recruit young talent rather than giving more reasons to work in other areas. Lastly, some of these days were initially offered because the state could not "afford" to give teachers a raise. Thus, they gave teachers extra days off in return for their salaries being extremely low.

  • Roy

    Don't go giving all teachers down the road because of a few. My wife is a teacher and has gone to work through back surgery, double pneumonia and various other alements. She would rather be in the class room than get a sub. Not to mention what the kids bring in from head lice to any type of cold or other virus that is out there. Carol Hamric should have thought about her statement before she made it. That was unprofessional to say the least. Sounds like she is envious...Don't start on the 180 days thing. It's more days than that, 180 days are how many days they teach in the classroom. That's all they get paid for working and streach it out over twelve months. There are still good teachers out there.... I firmly believe if a teacher is caught taking sick days and going to the beach or on a cruise they should be fired for abusing the policy. Your principals also have a hand in dealing with sick leave abuse. Teachers, like kids will do as much as they can get away with. If you don't like the present schedule of school with all the holidays, lobby for it to be year round then listen to the public whine something else.

  • Robert

    I have a suggestion...FIRE all the teachers...close all the public schools. The State can then write a check for every citizen with school age children for the $8,550.00 spent per student and allow them to find a better alternative to the public education system for their kids. Problem solved. Hope that works out for you.

  • Jim

    More teacher whining? Let's see, you only "work" 180 days/year, you get Thanksgiving week off, Christmas & News Year's week, spring break, every holiday imaginable, faculty senate days, on and on and then, you get 15 personal/vacation and sick days. Very, very generous! However, when public employees garner generous fringe benefit packages, they are ripe for abuse. As a former state employee, I vividly recall fellow employees stopping at the secretary's desk on Friday and informing her that tey wouldn't be back at work until next Thursday. When asked if they were taking annual leave and if they had their leave request approved by their supervisor, their reply was, no, I'm taking three days sick leave. Taking sick leave did not require approval and three days could be taken without a doctor's excuse. So, those folks just got themselves five days off, with pay. A virtual mini vacation to go to Myrtle Beach. Reprehensible behavior whether it be state employees or teachers. And, teachers and their unions wonder why WV taxpayers are fed up with childish behavior and more demands.How about county boards' of education instituting a new personnel policy--Work or Get Fired.

    • tom

      For those of you who think teachers have it so easy, I ask you. "Why did you not become one?" and "Why are so many classrooms throughout WV without a certified teacher in place?" Must be a great secret!!!

    • JS

      I have Type 1 diabetes; therefore, I do not heal as fast as others. You are like Ron D, you only tell half of the story. What you and others do not hear is that a high majority of teachers do not use many of their days at all, funny how that is left out. Your faculty senate comment is a big joke and not a funny one either. The kids get the day off, the teachers dont. If you have a job, when was the last time you took work home? Let me guess, not often. Oh, but that is rarely mentioned. Do my job for a year before you mouth off about it or keep your misinformed comments to yourself because you do not know what you are talking about. There are not a lot of bad teachers. The samething cannot be said about parents.

  • Mike

    We are rated 47th in the nation in education. Never been much higher then that. If a blame game is to me played it starts at home but yes I hold the teachers at blame also.

    • Robert

      West Virginia is rated 48-50 in every category except obesity and heart disease. Why should education be any different?

  • Woodchuck

    Teaching 8 hours? Where is this at? So the reason for 15 sick days is because the teachers are exposed to sick kids and they get sick more?

    I know of many teachers who don't miss a day. Somebody got any real statistics on this?

    Oh yea the teachers dont believe in stats. They believe the union blanket is best.


      No teacher works 8 hours a day at school. As for taking work home, all professionals take work home. Suck it up. All teachers "goldbrick" during the school day just like everyone else. Use the time more wisely.

  • Jim

    Instead of punishing all of the teachers, work with the ones who are the problems. Secondly, this is not just a problem with teachers, it happens at every profession. Not sure why it is open season on teachers, but it is. Joe, if you think it is so easy to be a teacher, go do it.

    • Joe


      I am not saying teaching is easy. Why do you all with the "why don't you do my job" answer? Nobody is saying that.

      I could not perform a teachers job anymore than they can perform mine. Both professionals, different training. There was no disrespect in my statement.

      Let me ask you this Jim. Who are teachers accountable to? Who is their boss in the school?

      • GW

        Joe: Again you are at it at 3 PM, now.

  • Mack

    I taught in WV public schools for 37 years. When I first started in 1973, teachers received 1.5 days of sick leave per month (15 days per year) - but - you were capped at 45 days. So by the fourth year, had you not used any sick leave days during the previous years, you received no additional days. If you did use some sick leave days, you only gained the balance needed to reach the cap of 45. That changed in the late '70's and teachers were then allowed to accrue those days without a limit throughout their teaching career. And that can pay off! When I retired in 2010, I had EARNED over 400-plus days of sick leave, (I rarely missed a teaching day) which I was then able to convert into extra years of service. The formula stated that for every 90 days of unused sick leave, you could redeem those days for an additional year of service. Thus I transfered my sick leave days for an additional 4.5 years of service giving me 41.5 years of service towards retirement and ultimately helping to raise my retirement pension. Teachers can also choose to convert remaining sick leave days for credit towards insurance coverage. But, it's one or the other. And since my spouse was also a teacher, after retirement, my insurance coverage came through my wife's policy as her spouse. And when she retired, she converted her sick leave for insurance coverage. By choosing to convert those extra sick leave days for years of service credit, I was very fortunate. And many times, I taught while I was fighting a cold so as to save those sick days. Unfortunately, some teachers are very foolish and "burn" those days, as the Kanawha County Superintendent stated. One never knows when a long-term medical problem might come your way at which time if you've burned a majority or ALL of your days, you will pay dearly. On the other hand, if you are fortunate to have good health, the retirement benefits make for a very nice exit package.

  • Joe

    Again, no different then the private sector. Adults, just like children, come to work sick and get coughed on, sneezed on, etc.

    • GW

      May I ask which private sector job allows an employee to be able to post comments to a message board at 10:30 in the AM? Or are you "disabled" or "unemployed". I didn't even get to urinate until 12:30 today.

  • stophating

    Perhaps Duerring should get out of his office and interact with sick kids each day and see if he gets sick. There isn't a day that I'm not coughed on, sneezed on, am in the area of vomit. Parents (even high school), send kids to school sick and this spreads germs to other students and teachers. Sorry, but this is true--Duerring, interact with students for 8 hours per day during the months of September and January and lets see how many sick days you take---oh, and no closing your door and saying hold my calls---try teaching a full eight hours while being sick--when you do that, then you can complain about teachers being sick. Until then, close your trap.

  • Teach

    Sounds great Joe. When can I expect those vacation days!

  • Joe

    Every private company I know allows five personal days per year, which can be used for whatever reasons required. Otherwise, vacation is used.

    There you go, a fair compromise.

    • TiredInTucker

      Teachers earn 1.5 days of leave time for each month worked. Teachers do not get vacation time to take for a day off. Maybe one of the reasons for some of the high absenteeism is the fact that the state took away any incentives NOT to use your sick days. Older employees can save their days and use them for some benefits at retirement.
      Younger school employees don't have this incentive and burn their days.

      • NorthernWVman

        Boo Hoo they don't need vaction time. They already have the summers off.

        • GW

          UNPAID summers off.

        • Eric

          what about those teachers that have kids and need to take time of to care or them???? As most educated people know West Virginia is one of the worst states as far as teachers income goes. So most familys must have both parents working (especially in th eastern panhandle) and since our government sucks at creating jobs one parent usually works in or near DC so the teacher is the one who takes time to care for the child. I say give teachers a certin amout of PTO per year based on years of service. they work hard and need it

        • David

          My wife is a teacher and she doesn't get summers off!!! What planet are you from?!?!

    • GW

      Teachers in WV receive NO vacation days. Those weeks off during Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. are UNPAID out-of-calendar days. Summer "vacation"? Forget it. Those are unpaid out-of-contract days. The ONLY "holidays" teachers have are the state holidays that every state employees are paid for. Teachers receive NO paid vacation days.

  • Rcl

    This is all turning into punish the teachers. Another reason not to work for this state. What about all the drug addled pill popping parents who try to send their just as bad kids to school. Education starts in the home. Lets see how big a teacher shortage you get when you increase the bureaucratic mess. I bet you see mass retirements and people leaving like you see with regular state employees.

    • Brenda

      There is no teacher shortage! That is a lie spread by the union in their never ending quest to squeeze the taxpayers for more money.

      I personally know two people, one with a science degree, who cannot get a teaching job in this state.

      WV is dead last in the country. Our children are suffering because of the failed policies of the teachers and their union.

      Teachers ARE the problem. It's about time someone took a stand for the children instead of sucking up to the teachers

      Thank you, Dr. Duerring!!


        Teachers, it's time that you be held accountable for your performance. I agree, there is no teacher shortage. Time for the two unions to go!

        • GW

          Says another person who can find free time in the middle of the afternoon to post.

      • GW

        Funny, there are days that I cannot even get a substitute to fill my position. I am sure with those "science" degrees that they could get on the sub list and work their way to a teaching degree and become fully certified.

      • Eric

        How can you say Teachers are the problem. THE SYSTEM has failed our kids. Teachers are told to push our children through the system instead of actually teaching them. Education starts at home. When kids are allowed to curse our teachers and disrupt the classroom and the parents say its their freedom of speech. Parents take the time to work with and know your kids teachers and care more about their education then if they are going to the right school for sports.

      • KnowsbetterthanYou

        Brenda is clearly just another parent whose student didn't get their way which means that all teachers are evil because her baby was wronged in some way.

    • Michael

      I agree. Why does a problem with the Kanawha County Board of Education turn into a statewide bashing of teachers? Sounds like they need to clean a little...or a lot... house in Kanawha County. There are way too many good teachers to be lumped in with a few bad ones. Every business everywhere probably has this problem. Give em' a break!!