Superintendent: Absences within district policy

MILFORD – Teachers are absent from school at a rate in line with the district’s policies and staff contracts, schools Superintendent Robert Marquis told the School Board last week.

The board had asked administrators to look into the number of sick days and other days off after they reviewed charts showing how many days substitute teachers were available for absent teachers this year.

But board member Len Mannino is still concerned about the absenteeism rate.

The district saw 63 staff members out in a single day, May 19, according to an “absence fill rate” chart for January through May, although the average daily absences for May was 41. Among the roughly 250 staff members who require substitutes when they’re absent, there were 3,466 absences during that five-month period.

“The numbers are staggering, and it’s kind of disheartening,” Mannino said.

Chairman Ron Carvell said the board was shocked by the numbers, but administrators determined there has been no abuse of district policy and that the absenteeism fell within the collective bargaining agreements.

Substitute pay became an issue this year, with many more classes unfilled, a situation school officials attributed to the low pay and New Hampshire’s low unemployment rate.

At its June 19 meeting, the board voted unanimously to raise the daily rate for substitutes from $65 to $75 so the district can better compete with other districts. For long-term substitutes, beginning on the 51st day, the rate goes to $85.

The board’s vote to raise the pay was unanimous. Carvell said the last time the pay was raised was about two decades ago.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or