School Committee evaluates plan to buy back staff personal days

Mar 26, 2021

To minimize the need for substitute teachers — which are in short supply these days — the School Committee is considering a plan to buy back teachers’ and other staff members’ allotted personal days for the year.

“We’re really stressing the fact that we want to limit [...] [the number of different] personnel in, and by having to bring subs in and out of the building, that only increases our chances of spreading covid,” Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood said during a March 25 School Committee meeting. 

Additionally, she noted that the district is struggling to find and hire substitute teachers.

Depending on whether or not staff members have rolled over a personal day from the previous year (as is allowed in their contract), they have either three or four personal days to use throughout the year, Shaver-Hood said. 

Many teachers have used just one of their personal days so far, she said, while others haven’t used any. 

“So we’re now coming down to the end of the year when people may be using their personal days or they’re going to lose them,” Shaver-Hood said. 

Because of the use-them-or-lose-them policy and the realities of covid-19, Shaver-Hood proposed that the district offer to buy back staff personal days this year.

“We would rather [staff] not use [their personal days], because we do not want to have to bring in substitute teachers or have staff double up, lose their prep time, etcetera,” she said. 

The district worked with the Wareham Education Association on the proposed plans, each of which would only be in effect for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

Shaver-Hood proposed the following buyback plans: 

• $175 per personal day for Unit A and B staff, which includes classroom teachers and assistant principals.

• $90 per personal day for Unit C and D staff, which includes paraprofessionals and secretaries.

• A voucher for classroom supplies worth the same amount staff would have received in cash for each personal day.

It is unclear how those dollar amounts compare to the salary for a day’s work for the staff. 

Shaver-Hood said she added the last option because of how common it is for teachers to have to spend their own money on supplies. Under this plan, the staff member would essentially spend what their personal day is worth on classroom supplies instead.

Teachers could choose to utilize both options, depending on the number of personal days they have available, she said.

“For example, if a staff member has two days, they could say, ‘You know, I want to sell back one of my days and get $175, but I want to sell back to the district one more day but I want you to hold it for a voucher,’” Shaver-Hood explained.

If the proposal was approved by the School Committee, staff members would be able to sell back all four of their personal days, she said. The committee will vote on the proposal at the next committee meeting.