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Rochester, N.Y. - In the email to Rochester City teachers, School Superintendent Bolgen Vargas didn't point fingers or blame teachers.
Instead, he expressed concern that 25 percent of the teaching staff was not in their classrooms last Friday and asked why?
Vargas told teachers he wants to work with them to reduce the numbers and resolve the attendance issues.
The absence of so many teachers created a problem in many schools, because there weren't enough substitute teachers to cover classrooms.
Other teachers, administrators and even Central Office staff were brought in to help out.
Rochester Teachers Union President Adam Urbanski said many of the absences by teachers are excused, either for personal reasons or work-related conferences.
He said teachers are also pulled out of their classrooms to grade state exams and for Professional Development.
Urbanski said most teachers do not abuse the sick policy.
He said teachers cited stress as the biggest reason why they are out of work.
Urbanski said more state testing and a new evaluation system puts new demand on city teachers.
He welcomed the chance to work with teachers and the Superintendent to get teachers more support and help to reduce the absenteeism.
Teacher Dave Wurz has worked in the Rochester School District for 27 years.
Wurz said he rarely takes sick time, but admitted he is also stressed because of new demands on teachers.
Wurz said most teachers come to school each day because they have a responsibility to their students.
The district is also working with the teacher's union to come up with a better policy to get substitute teachers when they are needed.
There is a pool of about 600 subs, but districts all over the county use the same pool, so there can be shortages at certain times during the school year.