QPS committee targets staff attendance

Quincy Public School’s Human Relations Committee discussed the cost of staff absences during Wednesday’s meeting. The committee wants to take a closer look at boosting staff attendance. | H-W Photo/Deborah Gertz Husar
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 5, 2018 9:35 pm Updated: Sep. 5, 2018 9:55 pm

QUINCY -- A Quincy Public Schools committee wants to take a closer look at boosting staff attendance.

Even though the district has quality substitutes, "still the best resource for kids is the classroom teacher," Superintendent Roy Webb said.

"We had people make comments last year when we were talking about the truancy issue. We had questions on what's the attendance rate with staff. My child says their teacher is always gone," he said. "It's been noticed."

A "discussion guide" outlined Wednesday by the Human Relations Committee targets seeking data on the magnitude of the problem including:

Use of sick and personal days and professional days by staff category, building and reason.

Cost of subs -- $85 per day plus additional costs to "buy" lunch and planning periods of certified staff to cover additional class periods -- and indirect costs/effects poor attendance by staff and students has on learning.

Why people are less likely to come to work.

The role of AESOP, the district's automated system where staff reports they need a sick day, and a sub is automatically found.

Incentives or alternatives to improve attendance and make subs more efficient and effective.

QPS staff have a total of 12.5 days per year to use, which includes three personal days. One longtime incentive has been "banking" sick days to use at retirement, but with many younger staffers not planning to retire from QPS, they prefer to use the days.

"We have staff going well over 12 days," Webb said. "Twelve days out of 176 student attendance days is getting close to 10 percent of the school year when they're gone."

At Western Illinois University, committee member Amy Chambers said employees accrue sick and vacation time throughout the year. That would be a contract issue in QPS, but "we like that for 2021," Human Resources Director Lisa Otten said.

Even emphasizing attendance within teams of teachers can make a difference, and bringing together "lead teachers" on a monthly basis "can tell you the info you want to get out of a survey," Chambers said.

"We've been having the discussion at the district level, now building level," Otten said. "We want to move into smaller groups."

Also Wednesday, committee members heard an update on plans for the HR web page and learned the district has three remaining open teaching positions, all in special education, which are being covered by subs.