Carroll prepares for school absences tomorrow

April 17, 2003|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

With Carroll County planning a rare public school day on Good Friday to make up for snow days, administrators are bracing for least 15 percent absenteeism tomorrow among teachers - and perhaps even more student absences.

More than 300 of the school district's 1,950 teachers had given notice by Tuesday afternoon - the most recent statistics available - that they plan to take the revoked spring vacation day as a personal day.

"The surprise is not the number of teachers taking off," said Stephen Guthrie, the school system's assistant superintendent of administration. "If there's any surprise, it's that there are not more taking off. I'm also surprised that we were able to get as many people to substitute as we were. It speaks a lot to the dedication of our staff in the county."

Guthrie compared tomorrow's projected teacher absence rate to "a really nice Friday in the spring where we may have some professional activities going on for teachers."

"It's not an outrageous number," he said. "It's not a good number, not something we wouldn't have concerns over. But, certainly, it's a number we've seen before and are able to deal with."

By Tuesday afternoon, the system's automated substitute-finding system had filled all but 14 of the vacancies. With the school day shortened by a three-hour early dismissal, elementary and middle school principals indicated they could juggle their staffs to cover the 10 openings at their schools.

Department supervisors and directors who regularly work at the district's administrative offices in Westminster will be dispatched to fill remaining vacancies in high schools.

That serendipitous twist on classroom substitutes might soothe the sting among teachers who are grouchy about losing all three of their scheduled spring break days to recoup added snow days, a teachers union official said.

Nonattendance will be considered an excused absence for students who had provided a note from a parent by yesterday. But with few parent notes trickling in, school officials were unsure how many classroom seats would be empty tomorrow.

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