Employees of the Calallen Independent School District facing a life-threatening illness or situation will still be able to rely on a policy that allows other employees to donate leave days.
Trustees had been faced with the decision to do away with the Catastrophic Sick Leave Pool, a policy that has been enforced in the school district off and on over the past decade. It allows teachers, administrators or other staff who may be facing a life-threatening situation, such as cancer or a stroke, to have other employees donate up to two leave days each for use by the individual employee.
This allows the staff member to be paid his or her regular hourly pay for up to 40 days while out of work, Deputy Superintendent Patrick Romero said.
Depending on the salary, the policy can cost the school district anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 a month for each staff member, though only an average of one to two employees makes use of the policy each school year, Romero said.
Trustee Yolanda Villarreal expressed her concern that doing away with the policy, however, would be a step backward for the school district in helping its employees.
"I don't want to do this - we've got to support our staff in some way," Villarreal said. "There's a human element to this and I don't want to let that go."
The policy allows employees to utilize the sick leave pool only after all sick days have been exhausted. The 40-day limit is for a staff member's entire tenure, and cannot be renewed annually like sick leave.
Once the 40 days are used, there is no additional time available for employees in the sick leave pool, Romero said.
Fellow trustee Karen Karagas said the policy was one that didn't need to be tampered with.
"It's something I don't feel needs to be (changed)," Karagas said.
The issue was also raised on how rescinding the policy could affect the mindset of the teachers.
"I just feel it would be more of a detriment to morale," Villarreal said.
But some board members felt the idea of saving any amount of money during a time when fuel, energy and food costs are increasing at a rapid pace is not necessarily a bad thing.
"If we, in the budget situation we're in…if the administration comes to us and says we can save $30,000 here, don't nix them all," trustee Paul Peeler said.
The school board voted 6-1 to keep the policy in place. Trustee Brent Burkhart was the only member to vote against the motion.
Also discussed at the Monday meeting were the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas results for the CISD.
The school district received a perfect score of 85 in the state review and a "Superior" rating.
"I feel very good about it," superintendent Arturo Almendarez said.
"We did a good job with our finances."