The policy, known as “red X” days, penalizes teachers for taking certain days off in the school year, and currently administrators do not have the discretion to waive those deductions in pay.
“What we're asking for discussion is that we remove those schedule of limitations and exceptions under the current policy DEC [District Education Code] local. What we're asking is that we allow our supervisors to manage the absences on their campuses or department,” said Kathy Kenny, executive director of human resources for NBISD.
There are reasons for having the policy in place, such as for testing days, Kenny said, but added that the administration believes campus principals can handle the issue on their own without the automatic punitive action.
“When I came to the district three years ago, that was kind of a new idea from other districts that I worked in, but I've heard that it's common. My first impression of it was that it was very strict, and a little bit of an overreach toward the professionalism of our teachers,” Seele Elementary School Principal Miriam Blanton said. “Just recently I had a teacher that needed a day off for a funeral for a close friend, and he hasn’t even asked about [pay] it because he was a wreck, and I felt very upset for him because I said, ‘This is your close friend; you need to go to this event,’” Blanton said.
New Braunfels High School Principal Chris Smith echoed Blanton’s comments.
“I will tell you I was at a previous school district that went through this exact process. We had a red X calendar, and then we moved away from that and things didn't change that much. I think the thing that's lacking in this policy is discretion,” Smith said.
While the board took no action, trustees voiced agreement to a possible change to the policy.
Kenny said surrounding school districts do not have a similar policy.
“I'm not looking at it as us being exactly like other districts or anything like that, it's just kind of knowing what's out there when you're hiring and trying to retain staff and those little things, sometimes those little tweaks make a big difference,” NBISD board President Wes Clark said.