'Unacceptable' Sick Bank Deal Rejected By Teachers
West Morris Regional Board of Education, Teacher's Association can't come to terms on action to aid ill colleague.
An effort by faculty members to donate unused sick time to ill colleagues in the West Morris Regional High School district won’t come to fruition, after the Teacher’s Association and Board of Education could not agree on terms.
The idea of a “sick bank” was brought to the board in September 2012, and the nine-member group discussed the possibility behind closed doors at three different meetings, for more than five hours total, according to Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast.
A sick bank would allow faculty members to donate unused sick days to a colleague who has run out of them and is no longer being paid for time missed. Of the district’s 240 faculty members in the association, 150 signed a petition asking the board to allow this initiative.
The sick bank action came about this year to aid Susan Moor, a nurse at West Morris Central currently battling breast cancer. Moor lost all of her accumulated sick days in the spring of 2012 when her 8-year-old daughter died.
“Unfortunately, the Association has received an unacceptable offer from the Board regarding the requested sick bank for Susan Moor,” said Teacher’s Association President Joyce Hartmann. “We are disappointed not only for the immediate help needed for Susan as she is out of sick days, but also the knowledge of the Board’s best practice offered to colleagues in our community.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Hartmann said.
In the case of a sick bank sought by the Association, 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.
“(The Board) treated this with tremendous energy and concern,” Pendergrast said. “We worked on a platform to donate sick days to a colleague in distress. The platform was rejected.”
There were 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.
Details of which deal was proposed were not released by Pendergrast or Hartmann. The Association leader said it is something the group hopes can be considered in the upcoming negotiations for a new contract.
The next scheduled meeting of the West Morris Regional Board of Education is Monday at 7 p.m. at West Morris Central and is open to the public.