CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation to allow newer teachers the option of selling back personal days has advanced to the Senate Finance Committee.
The Senate Education Committee passed SB 638 last week to create a new incentive for Tier 2 teachers to be in the classroom rather than burning personal days they might otherwise lose.
“They can’t use them for retirement and they can’t use them for PEIA like Tier 1 teachers,” said Senate Education Committee Chair Amy Grady (R-Mason). “So they have this mentality, ‘if I don’t use my days, I lose them.'”
Whether the idea passes this session remains to be seen—it has to make it out of the Senate by Wednesday, crossover day, but it hasn’t yet been taken up by the finance committee.
The days would carry over to the next year, but as Grady mentioned in a recent appearance on MetroNews Talkline, one of the changes in the new Tier 2 system disallowed teachers from accumulating the days off and putting them toward retirement.
But as the teachers take the days, it’s costly for counties to pay a substitute. Plus in many cases it’s creating difficulties since the number of substitutes is also dwindling. Sometimes teachers are pulled away from their own classrooms to help cover for those who are off. The whole arrangement severely disrupts the learning environment. Grady said all agree, the best scenario is a teacher in the classroom teaching.
The issue has become a growing problem for county school administrators who are asking the State Department of Education and the Legislature for help.
Grady said State Superintendent David Roach polled Tier 2 teachers ahead of the legislative session about how best to handle the days off. She said overwhelmingly, of the 5,000 who responded to his survey, teachers said they’d like to be able to cash in the days and use them for monetary value.
The bill would enable teachers to cash in up to 10 of the15 personal/sick days they receive each year at the rate per day of a substitute teacher in their district. Grady said the amount would be around $150 to $160.
“The county is saving the money for not having to pay a substitute and the teacher is in the classroom,” said Grady.