Friday, June 23, 2006

TOP STORY > Absent teachers costing money

Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: Cabot School Board grapples with money matters, including payout for absent teachers and a loan for $650,000 in improvements to the football stadium.

Last year, on any given school day, an average of 50 teachers were absent from the Cabot School District, costing the district nearly $500,000 and a total of 9,500 missed days of instruction.

“That’s ridiculous. I just don’t understand why we have such a high rate of teacher absenteeism,” said Brooks Nash, board member.

Cabot School Board members Thursday discussed the possibility of giving $100 per semester to teachers with good at-tendance.

Similar policies implemented at other districts have mixed results, according to Superintendent Frank Holman. District administrators are now asking for more details when teachers fill out their absence paperwork.

“We’re paying out a lot of money for absenteeism,” Holman said, adding the district is working to help teachers get their required 60 hours of professional development outside of the school year.

In other business, the board plans to take out a low or no-interest five year loan to finance $650,000 for artificial turf at the high school football field. A 501(C) 3 non-profit foundation is being formed to raise money to pay the loan back.

Maintenance of the natural grass surface that currently exists costs about $10,000 a year, meaning the new surface, which lasts 10 to 15 years, may never pay for itself.

Several board members ex-pressed concern at taking out such a large loan.

“The public might see it as a crapshoot,” said board member Wendel Msall.

The board expects to award a contract for the work by July 8 in order to get the field finished by Sept. 1 for football season.
The board unanimously ap-proved paying $35,000 for the city to build a sidewalk from Kerr Station Road to Campground Road for students who walk to and from classes at Cabot Junior High South.