I am writing in regard to the recent publicity about public employers and their sick leave payouts. In defense of the instructional and non- instructional staff in the Weehawken School district – this is not at all the scenario. The critical issue of sick day compensation payouts and sick pay reform for public employees should be a concern, if the pay out was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I can attest, for sure, that this is not the norm in our district, nor is it, barely, even close.
The fact is that the Weehawken Education Association members have a $7,000 limit upon the accumulation of 262.5 days. (Representing a lengthy career average about 30 years and a yearly absence of 4 days.). That’s $26.00 per day, which by the way doesn’t even come close to the $70.00 per diem rate for a substitute teacher.
I think the public needs to take a profound look at what exactly is occurring in their own individual town and not just assume such ‘illogical’ payoffs are running rampart across the state. It is not the majority of public employees, specifically the staff in our schools, that are being awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars upon retirement. It is not a “piggybank that taxpayers have to fill” followed by the negative sentiments we have become in the public’s voice. When communal issues are raised, one can’t just assume it applies to you or your town.
Get your facts before condemning a group of devoted, hard-working, and fair individuals, who should not be included with a limited few, but more, deserve respect and gratitude. The teachers, secretaries, aides, and custodians in a school district are not the scapegoats. It’s time to do your homework!
Jill M. Barbarise
35 year Public School Teacher,
President of the Weehawken Education Association