Superintendents testified to the House Education Committee Wednesday. (Pexels)

Superintendents get their way with days-off bill amendment

Jarek RutzHeadlines, Education

Superintendents testified to the House Education Committee Wednesday. (Pexels)

Superintendents testified to the House Education Committee Wednesday. (Pexels)

Seven of the state’s 19 school district superintendents testified in opposition to a bill that would allow teachers to take personal days without approval. 

Senate Bill 61, sponsored by Laura Sturgeon, D-Hockessin and the education committee chair, would allow teachers and other school employees to use five sick days each year to take off for personal reasons, an increase from three they now have. 

The bill also allows a school employee to use the one day of leave provided for the funeral of a near relative on the day before or the day after the funeral.

In previous hearings, Republican legislators said the bill takes away local control of school districts. 

Superintendents’ voice their opinions

In Wednesday’s House Education Committee, Smyrna School District Superintendent Susan Brown said that was an issue that makes her oppose the bill.

“We work directly with teachers and other staff members and employees regarding their absences and to my knowledge, we have not denied any requests to use personal leave,” she said.  

She said she would support the bill with an amendment that would preserve the school district’s autonomy to address any teachers’ unique absence request through the district’s negotiated agreement.

Dorrell Green, superintendent of the Red Clay Consolidated School District, said he would support the bill with that amendment as well. 

“I still want the same operational mechanisms to be able to work collaboratively with our staff members to address anything that may come up regarding personnel leave,” he said. 

Colonial School District Superintendent Jeff Menzer also opposed the bill.

“I support improving working conditions for all of our educators,” he said. “However, language in this bill prevents superintendents from asking for reasons for personal leave, which prevents us engaging in the interactive process to ensure that leave is charged appropriately.”

Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, once again pointed out that the state has a teacher shortage and one of the worst student achievement and test scores in the country. 

“Is this bill going to encourage students to show up for kids for school knowing that their teacher now has five days they can just take off,” he said, “without telling anybody why just bye-bye and not show up? Is that good for education or not?”

Superintendents from Delmar, Cape Henlopen, Appoquinimink and POLYTECH school districts also told the committee Wednesday they were against the bill. 

They got their wish, and the bill was amended to still allow school leaders to approve and deny personal day requests. 

The bill was released with 12 votes and now heads to the House ready list.

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