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Cutting incentive payments will save school board about $40,000

The McDuffie County School Board recently enforced several policies aimed at helping the school system get the most for its money.

In a regular meeting on Nov. 12, the board voted to discontinue incentive payments to employees with perfect attendance.

In 1995, the then-Board of Education adopted a policy which provided for a payment of $400 for certified employees and $200 for noncertified employees for each year in which the employee did not use any sick or personal leave.

According to meeting information material, this policy was later rescinded by the board, but the school system continued the practice of payment for perfect attendance.

When searching for ways to cut expenses this year after the state cut revenues to local systems, Superintendent Jim LeBrun looked at the policy and determined that eliminating it would result in a savings of approximately $40,000 per year.

Board member Greg Derry made the motion to eliminate the incentive pay, and Bob Smith seconded. The vote passed unanimously. Ella Mae Samuels and Dorothy Hart were not present.

The decision came a few months after the school system made changes to eliminate payroll expenses for substitute teachers. During budget work sessions earlier in the year, it was noted that the system spent close to $400,000 a year on substitute teachers. The decision was made to cut back on teachers using sick or personal days by requiring them to call in and speak directly to a principal, or principal-appointed person, rather than checking in through the computer, as was the previous practice.

Mr. LeBrun later added to the preventive measures, by asking principals to cut back on their substitute pay even more if possible. Regarding instances when a substitute was needed for a short period of time, Mr. LeBrun asked the principals to have faculty members fill in during planning periods. If a teacher needed to be out for maternity leave or sick leave, then a certified substitute would still be used.

At the last planning meeting, Mr. LeBrun acknowledged the two recent procedures create a conflict.

"We are trying to increase attendance by asking teachers not to use substitutes, and then we take away the incentive policy for perfect attendance. So, we are really talking out of both sides of our mouth," he said. "But the current economic situation and budget cuts require such measures."

The numbers show the plan is working. In a report created by Administrative Assistant Sheilah Johnson, substitute expenditures were cut drastically when comparing October 2008 figures with October 2009.

Substitute expenditures

The following data concerning substitute expenditures was provided to the school board:

 Oct. 2008 Oct. 2009
Leave without pay days used 1017
Personal days used3142
Staff development days used11366
Sick/bereavement days used619500
Vacation days used3019
Total days requiring a substitute467126
Total expenditure$36,038.56$21,414.63

Web posted on Thursday, December 03, 2009

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