Teacher incentive program sees success

SPENCER — An attendance incentive program has been put into place for personnel employed at the Roane County Schools.

According to Superintendent Richard Duncan, the program went into affect for the 2018-2019 school year. It was partially started due to the lack of substitute teachers, Duncan said.

“We had a critical shortage of substitute teachers and we had to find ways of addressing that need,” he said. “The usual way had been to find more substitute teachers (but) we could not hire enough to fill the need.”

Being that often times substitute teachers are retired or may have other jobs, they may not be available when needed, Duncan said. It was decided to “hit the problem from the other side and reduce the need for substitutes in a way that’s more educationally sound,” Duncan said.

The idea was to avoid merging classes and unproductive days by encouraging better attendance among employees, according to Duncan.

The program is based on the use of sick and personal days. Days missed for training purposes or workers compensation will not count against them, Duncan said.

“We basically monitor throughout the year, I send out reminders every nine weeks and we look at how many days an individual has missed for a sick or personal day,” Duncan said.

Those with perfect attendance at the end of the year receive a $500 bonus. A tiered system was created according to the number of days missed, but employees will received some compensation if they miss less than six days throughout the course of the year.

“It’s only been a year but we did see a 20 percent reduction last year in the number of sick and personal days used in the county,” Duncan said. “That was a pretty significant number.”

Among 285 employees, 16 achieved perfect attendance and received the $500 incentive last year.

Maria Hedges, counselor at Spencer Middle School was one of the recipients.

“I feel that attendance in any career path is important to be successful. School relationships are the key to help students be successful,” Hedges said. “It’s important for students to have adults that they know they can count on to be there for them.”

Having an incentive for good attendance could also potentially save the county money if they don’t have to hire as many substitutes, Hedges said.

Although the numbers won’t be in for this school year until next spring, Duncan said he can already see an improvement.

“It’s keeping the pace with last year but we’ll see. Our use of substitutes has dropped significantly this year so we must be seeing better attendance,” he said.


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