SSID board considers putting local policy book up on the district's Internet Web site
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

July 14, 2005 -- Due to the ever-expanding size of the Sulphur Springs Independent School District's local policy book, administrators are considering joining the many school districts throughout the state that make their local policies available to the public on the Internet.

"We are investigating having all of the policies online," Superintendent Patsy Bolton advised school trustees during their regular July meeting earlier this week. "It's what many districts are doing. We don't know the cost yet, but we are looking into it."

One of those policies could be an amended extended sick leave policy for all district personnel.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Reed asked the board for its approval to continue drafting a proposed change to the district's extended leave of absence policy. The proposed change would tighten up the wording to ensure that the policy is not abused.

"Texas Association of School Boards indicated that we have probably the most lenient policy in the state," Reed said. "First, it is suggested that we give some definition to the 'extended leave' and eliminate it being used one day at a time.

"We are only talking about a few people abusing [the extended local leave of absence policy]," he added. "We are certainly not talking about 300 people."

The change would limit the number of days a person is allowed to request before being placed on temporary disability, as well as paid leave days.

The current policy allows a person to request 30 days additional leave with pay from the superintendent, and an additional 30 days can be granted by the school board. During their leave, the cost of substitute teacher pay is subtracted from their salary, according to Reed.

The proposed change would allow the employee to request a minimum of five consecutive days and a maximum of 30 consecutive days extended local sick leave with substitute pay deducted, with documentation from the person or family member's doctor. In order to request 5-30 additional consecutive extended days leave from the superintendent, the days would have to be consecutive and would need to be used for sickness, either of the employee or the employee's extended family.

The request to the superintendent could be made only after the yearly five allotted state days, plus any accumulated or carried over from a previous year, are used.

"Some teachers have a large amount of accumulated days built up," Bolton explained. "If they work for the district for a number of years, that could be 30 days, or even 60 at a time. Some might even have 100 days.

"We encourage them to be in the classroom," Bolton added. "When they get ready to retire, they are paid the number of days they have accumulated at the substitute rate."

After those consecutive 30 days were used up, any additional time needed for extended local sick leave would then reflect a legal policy which when documentation would allow the employee to be placed on "temporary disability" for up to 180 days, during which time they would lose pay but would not lose their position with the district.

"We are not trying to eliminate benefits," Reed said. "We want to be fair and reasonable. These changes are covered under the Family Leave Act, which does not require that they be granted 30 days extended leave."

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