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Some schools will cut teachers' sick days


UNDATED (WSAU) At least some Wisconsin school boards are cutting the amount of sick leave for teachers. With the new limits on collective bargaining, unions no longer have a say over those benefits in districts where contracts expired on June 30th. School officials say they need to cut what they can, to make up for big losses in state aid and new limits on raising property taxes.

The Elmbrook School District near Milwaukee plans to save $16,000 a year on substitute teachers by reducing sick leave. Elmbrook staff members saw their annual sick leave cut from 10-to-15 days to just seven – and only three of those days can be used for personal reasons. At Sussex Hamilton, the 20 sick days given to teachers each year has been cut in half. They also reduced the number of unused sick days a teacher can bank from 75-to-30. But for the first time, they can convert their unused leave beyond 30 days to cash for their retirements.

The New Berlin School Board will talk about possible sick leave changes tonight. Both the state’s largest teachers’ union and an attorney for the state school boards’ association say cutting sick leave may not be a good idea. That’s because teachers can get sick easier than others due to the germs and diseases that kids bring from home. The union’s Christina Brey says educators should not be in school unless they’re fully healthy. Barry Forbes of the school boards’ group says districts apparently want to be more like the private sector, where many firms now have a single pot for all forms of employee leave. But in a school environment, Forbes agrees it might not be such a good idea.