CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lots of people talk about the impact of truancy on student achievement, but one state senator requested figures Tuesday on absentee rates among teachers.
Sen. Erik Wells, D-Kanawha, asked state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares to provide teacher absentee rates by county for the past five years.
Wells, in the Senate Education Committee meeting, noted that Kanawha County had to pay substitute teachers $4.6 million last school year, and said he believes there is a problem with high absenteeism among some teachers.
"If we see someone missing 10, 12, 14, 15 days [a year] over a five-year period, there's an issue there," Wells said. "I want to see absences from both sides."
Phares said informal data show that teachers have higher percentages of absentee rates than students in most counties, but said he wanted to see more precise data.
Statewide, percentages of students with 20 or more unexcused absences in a school year range from about 3 percent at the elementary school level to about 10 percent at the high school level, he said.
Purchase of routers questioned
Also Tuesday, members of the Senate Finance Committee grilled Administration Secretary Ross Taylor and Tomblin administration chief of staff Rob Alsop regarding the recent legislative audit that found the state had overpaid nearly $8 million by buying oversize computer network routers to be installed in schools, libraries and other public facilities around the state, as part of a federally funded broadband Internet initiative.
"It's just not conceivable to me that something of this size could get so messed up, and nobody seems to know what happened," said Sen. Doug Facemire, D-Braxton. "It sounds like somebody who was representing us didn't know what they were doing and got sold a bill of goods."