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Teachers Seek to Donate Days to Sick Colleague

Faculty waits on BOE approval to create 'sick bank' for West Morris Central nurse with breast cancer.

One hundred and fifty of the 240 faculty members within the West Morris Regional School District’s Teacher’s Association have signed a petition allowing for a donation of sick days to an ill colleague.

But it’s up to the Board of Education to allow the action to happen, and has been in their hands since October, according to Teacher’s Association President Joyce Hartmann. Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast has been aware of the issue since September, Hartmann said. 

The action, which would create a “sick bank” for an ill colleague–Susan Moor, a nurse at West Morris Central–would take donated sick days from faculty members willing to contribute for Moor to use as she battles breast cancer. Moor is out of available sick days, since she used them when her 8-year-old daughter died last spring, Hartmann said.

The donated sick days would be used by Moor, who is unable to work as she undergoes treatment for her disease, Hartmann said. Each faculty member, under contract, receives 10 sick days and four personal days annually.

Whatever days aren’t used during a teacher’s tenure can be accumulated and capped at 150 to be paid out (no more than $15,000) upon retirement, Hartmann said.

In the case of a sick bank, the donated days would be held by the board of education. Whatever days were not used would be given back to faculty members on a first come, first served basis, Hartmann said.

“[Faculty] has done this in the past outside of our contract to help colleagues in the same situation,” Hartmann said. “We tried to put this in the current contract, but weren’t able to before settling.”

The teachers’ current contract ends June 30, 2013.

Hartmann made the issue public at the board's Monday, Nov. 12 meeting when she addressed the body during open session. 

There are four options for the board to consider as outlined by legal counsel, Hartmann said, including: the sick bank as outlined by Hartmann; the sick bank, giving Moor the ability to use the days minus the cost of a substitute in her absence; do nothing; and to give Moor the sick days in addition to paying the substitute on a daily basis.

If the action went through to allow the sick bank with donated days from each of the 150 signed faculty members, that “would more than meet [Moor’s] needs,” Hartmann said.

Moor is aware of what her colleagues are attempting to do but did not initiate the process, Hartmann said. Moor would be eligible for Family Medical Leave through the state, but a significantly lower rate of pay. 

Pendergrast said the board would continue to research its options on the topic. The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Mendham High School.

This article is posted on Long Valley and Mendham-Chester Patch sites. 

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Lt.Dan January 28, 2013 at 04:52 PM
It is a laudable idea and I think it should be allowed on a compassionate interim basis in this case and then hashed out in the new contract this year. It raises a lot of logistical questions. This situation is for disability, really. There is nothing new under the sun, this must have been broached in other districts in similar situations with lessons learned. Jason, get on your horse.
LVMom January 31, 2013 at 02:32 PM
sometimes the best thing to do is act first then worry about logistics later. this woman needs help NOW. the family has been through too much. as far as precedence. if someone else looses their child then gets diagnosed with cancer within 12 months this SHOULD be precedence. this brings tears to my eyes every time i think about it.

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