Poll: Should teacher sick days be mandated by the state or negotiated by teachers and their school districts?

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High school classroom

A midstate senator said he thinks it’s time for all teachers employed by local school districts to negotiate their paid sick days. But, that’s not how it’s been done in the Commonwealth for decades.

State law has maintained the mandate — teachers don’t lose their paid sick days. According to state law, “…unused leave shall be cumulative from year to year in the school district of current employment or its predecessors without limitation.”

Sen. John Eichelberger (R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin) said he is reintroducing a bill from last session, which gives local school districts autonomy to negotiate paid sick days with their teachers. He said there is a “need” for districts, under an adjusted Public School Code, to bargain between school boards and employee organizations. His legislation, he said, would untie school districts hands.

In a note he wrote to all state senators, Eichelberger explained, “allowing school districts to collectively bargain leave time, as opposed to mandating it through statute, provides districts with some say as to how to best manage their personnel.”

Also, Eichelberger said, he “would eliminate a professional employee’s entitlement to a sabbatical leave.”

He wrote, “Sabbatical leave benefits for professional school employees well exceed the normal benefits provided to each employees in the public and private sector.”

To better manage expenses, provide the best education, and ensure minimal disruption in the classroom, Eichelberger said, he thinks this law would positively change each district’s academic outcomes and financial bottom line.

Should teacher sick days be mandated by the state or negotiated by teachers and their school districts?