(11/27/2019)
SPENCER - Eyewitness News told you about a new incentive for Roane County teachers that puts money in their pockets if they don't miss a day all school year. The numbers are in, and the pilot program is being called a success.

Joseph Cottrell teaches seventh grade world geography at Spencer Middle School. He is one of the 16 faculty and staff, countywide, who had perfect attendance last school year.

"If we don't come to school, how are we supposed to model the correct behavior for our students?" Cottrell asked.

The Board of Education passed a policy to improve and provide an incentive for employee attendance. As a result, Cottrell received $500, and Roane County Schools saw their best numbers in eight years. Superintendent Richard Duncan said the county saw a 20-percent drop in the number of sick and/or personal days used.

"That was the whole goal, to make sure our regular employees are in the classroom, on their bus . . . It really is a situation where, one of my colleagues put it, we're paying two people to do a job worse on days when someone is not in school," Duncan said.

On average, faculty and staff who did miss school missed two fewer days, all of this saving the school system money. He said the incentive costs the school system less by design than a substitute teacher would.

"On our budgets at the end of the year, we did see a dramatic decrease in the amount of sub costs compared to the previous years, and that was well within what we paid out in incentive bonuses," Duncan said. Teachers Eyewitness News spoke with said a bonus is always something nice to work toward, but that their students are their main motivation every day.

"I think knowing that there are kids here waiting on you every morning, you know, they're going to be here whether you're here or not," said Marie Hedges, a school guidance counselor at Spencer Middle School who also had perfect attendance.

Faculty and staff who missed one to five days also received a bonus.

The Board of Education also approved another attendance policy that says faculty and staff could possibly face disciplinary action if they miss more than their allotted days.


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