By James Hilepo SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — A report on staff attendance from the Syracuse City School District determined that absenteeism among teachers and other staff rose five percent in 2018-19 from the previous year, from 39 to 44 percent.
The City of Syracuse considers more than eight absences per school year as needing improvement. The district saw 37 percent of its over 2,000 teachers reach that threshold, a number which rises to 44 percent when considering all of the nearly 4,000 total employees.
The report, presented by Superintendent Jaime Alicea, comes in spite of the city attempts to limit abuse of sick and paid leave days. It did not consider paid leave, maternity or paternity leave, vacations, or long-term illnesses. It instead focused on absences that occur while the teachers are “active,” including sick and family sick days, personal days, no calls or no shows, unpaid leave, and unexcused absences.
The effects of teacher absenteeism are widespread, impacting students, the teachers themselves, and the taxpayer. Despite spending $4.3 million on the hiring of substitute teachers, some schools in the district cannot always guarantee that they will have enough subs to cover every class.
The report includes a number of strategies the district is considering to address the problem. These include more frequent communication to staff about attendance policy as well as requiring employees to supplement their electronic absence submission form with a phone call to their immediate supervisor.