Sick-day policies changed in St. James

Published 2:37 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014



LUTCHER – At its most recent meeting, the St. James Parish School Board tightened the reins on employees who use sick time to extend holiday periods.

The newly-approved amended policy states “any employee who is absent due to illness or injury immediately prior to or after a holiday, regardless of the number of days absent, shall be required to provide a certificate from a licensed physician certifying such absence upon return to work.”

According to Superintendent Alonzo Luce, the policy was amended at the request of district principals.

“There has been a high absentee rate for people taking sick leave before or after a holiday,” said Administrative Director Carol Webre.

“It really helps to ensure our teachers are in the classroom when they need to be,” added Luce.

According to Webre, about 55 district employees were absent on the first day of school following Fat Tuesday. The high rate of absences not only strains the district’s substitute teacher pool, but it also drives up costs for the school system.

The School Board gave its OK to another amended policy, as well. This one increased the number of sick days an employee can accrue from 20 to 30.

In other action, the School Board approved giving a $500 stipend to all district teachers for the 2013-14 school year. The decision was made because the Louisiana Department of Education will not be issuing the data necessary to make monetary awards dependent on teacher performance. The data will not be available until the 2015-16 school year at the earliest.

“I don’t feel comfortable with the data,” said Luce, adding, “I think (the stipend) will be a big morale booster.”