Quolke’s Corner #152 Staff Attendance

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Quolke’s Corner #152

Staff Attendance

      Like many of you I was stunned, angry, and disappointed when I got the letter from the CEO about attendance indicating that our employee attendance rate was 89.3%.  I was stunned by the claim that our teachers average a little higher than a 10% average daily absence rate.  I was disappointed that absolutely no discussion with the CTU (the largest employee group in the CMSD) regarding this issue occurred before being released to the public.  I was angry that this release occurred coinciding with our attempts to rejuvenate our Labor Management Committee and unite Principals and Chairs to solve challenges together. 

      No one, including me, will argue about the virtues or benefits of increased staff attendance.  No one, including me, will argue about the positive impact our members prove attendance has on improving student performance.  But to claim we have on average a 10%  daily absence rate without EVER talking to the CTU regarding the problem, without EVER talking to the CTU about the data and how it was calculated is not excusable...period.   In fact, we all remember last March, when the district sent out a similar notice about improving attendance.  CTU requested the daily absence reports at that time and since then we do receive daily absence reports.   We now get that absence report with a breakdown of absences, reasons, open positions, filled sub positions, etc.  It includes classroom teachers, paraprofessionals and clerical staff but no one else.  So when the CEO’s letter came out last week, we immediately asked for the district calculations and their math behind the numbers that indicated the 89.3% attendance rate.   To date nothing but a lot of unanswered questions and information we don’t know...such as:

*How was 89.3% calculated?  

*Does it include absences for Professional Development?

*Are Open Positions included in the absence calculation?

*Does the district have Principal, Assistant Principal, Central Office, and all other educator attendance data?

      Since I could not get information from the district and after receiving numerous media calls last week pertaining to the CEO’s letter, I did a little homework and some number crunching to see if the 89.3% attendance number made any sense.  Guess what – it does not make sense.  In fact, using the districts data I calculated our teachers as having a 94.7% attendance rate.  That’s right 94.7%....identical with that of the average US teacher attendance rate done by the Center for American Progress.  Here is what I did:

      I simply took the districts number of classroom teachers (2,784), multiplied it by the number of days on the attendance report (49) and divided it into the number of days of used sick leave during that time period(Death in Family, Illness, Special Privilege Leave, Long Term Absence).  Again this is all district provided data.  No guessing, no estimating - real numbers.  When I used these numbers I got an attendance rate of 94.7%.  I just want to say it again 94.7%.

      A far cry from the 89.3% attendance rate referred to in the CEO letter. Again I ask where does their number come from?  I also ask why is it so easy for the district to forget that there are open positions and a shortage of available substitute teachers which means that hard working teachers and paraprofessionals are stepping up and covering classes, taking additional halves or thirds of classes and making those students part of their own class, giving up planning time, etc. to make sure that our students get a quality education.  When the CEO’s letter was made public I was barraged by media who wanted to know why our teacher attendance rate was so high.  But as it turns out my numbers show what I have always known - that we have a truly dedicated workforce of people who come to work for their kids every day. 

Thank you.

In Union,