COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some Columbus parents are voicing major concerns, saying their children would learn more in class if their teachers stopped missing so much school.
Vlad Kogan who has two children enrolled at Columbus City Schools. "Students come in behind. They don't catch up. They're even further behind."
Kogan researches educational policies at the Ohio State University. He recently pulled both state and federal data for Columbus City Schools and found the average teacher missed 14.4 days in the 2017-2018 school year. They're only allowed 15 sick days a year by Ohio state law. In 29 of the 109 Columbus City Schools, Kogan found the average teacher missed more school that the average student. By comparison, a student who misses 18 days of class or more in one school year is determined to be chronically absent.
"We have about a dozen elementary schools where 70% of the teachers or more missed more than two weeks of school every year," Kogan said.
Data shows 90% of teachers at Alpine Elementary missed more than two weeks of school last school year. Current second grader Sonenkumbe Kome said he remembered his first-grade teacher out more than once. When that happened, he said his class got split up among other classrooms.
"When it came to these big math problems, me and my friends were in the second-grade classroom, and we had to do harder math," Kome said. His mother said the larger class sizes for those days are a major worry for her when it comes to her son's education. Alpine made an overall 'D' on the state report card last year.
"You might have a first-grade teacher that normally has 25-26 kids, and all of a sudden they have five more kids every single day," said John Coneglio, president of the Columbus Education Association that represents CCS's 4,000 teachers. "I believe our teachers want to be in front of kids every single day."
The average CCS teacher makes nearly $69,000 a year, according to Ohio's Department of Education. That's $6,000 more than the average teacher in the state. Despite that, Coneglio believes heavy workloads may be causing teacher illness and stress. Sources told ABC 6/FOX 28 constant bad student behavior is also an absentee factor.
"If teachers can't come to work because they're overwhelmed by the situations they're dealing with or because they don't feel safe in the classroom," said Kogan. "Those are also issues the district needs to address."
Kogan is scheduled to meet with new superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon in March about his findings. After that, the district is scheduled for contract negotiations with CEA. Kogan said possible solutions maybe offering financial incentives for teachers who do not use all of their sick days. Coneglio said he could not discuss any topics or ideas that may be discussed at the negotiation table.