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Aurora schools see marked increase in teacher absences, especially on Fridays

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(The Center Square)- Colorado’s Aurora Public Schools has seen a 35% increase in teachers’ absences in 2023-24 compared to the pre-pandemic numbers of 2018-19.

And teachers, the district reported, were far more likely to report sick on Friday than any other workday.

The Board of Education has been asked to approve a contract with Kelly Educational Staffing for up to $5.4 million to fill vacancies with substitute teachers for the upcoming 2024-25 school year, according to documents.

The contract will cover the cost of operating services provided by Kelly Education, which consists of two full-time positions needed to run the program, daily operations, compensation and benefits, recruitment, onboarding, and training.

In 2018-19, 26,939 absences and vacancies were reported. That number significantly increased to 40,769 by 2022-23.

From July until March of the 2023-24 school year, 36,431 absences or vacancies required the need for a substitute, leading the district to renew the services offered by Kelly Educational Staffing.

The district’s data found that 3.35% of the teacher absences were due to professional learning while 75% was due to health/sick leave and 9% was due to personal leave.

The agenda document also shows teacher absences were higher on Thursdays and Fridays, with Friday having a 35% higher average than the rest of the school days.

The document included factors contributing to the high rate of absenteeism, including the nature of school-based work having become more challenging since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase in vacant teaching positions, and teachers taking extended leaves of absence due to their own or a family member’s mental or physical health.

As of 2023, there are 2,841 teachers in the district compared to the 2,593 reported in 2018-19, according to the district’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report, with the average teacher salary being $70,035.

Aurora Public Schools did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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