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HUNTINGTON — The Cabell County Board of Education has renewed a trial program that allows eligible employees to cash in on unused personal leave days at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

Introduced as the Personal Leave Incentive Program (PLIP), district officials say the program aims to encourage attendance for employees throughout the academic year. In order to be eligible for the program, an employee must not use more than five days of leave all year.

The plan would compensate each employee $75 for each personal leave day earned but not used during the current fiscal year. The maximum number of days an employee can receive compensation for is 15 regardless of employment term and will be issued as a separate payroll check at the end of the fiscal year.

“The whole thought behind it is to reward employees for not using all of their sick days if they don’t have to,” Assistant Superintendent Tim Hardesty said. “Our students do best when their regular teachers are in the classroom with them, and so the incentive (program) was designed to have as much continuity as we can in our building every day.”

Hardesty said the program has been in place on a trial basis for the past two years and will continue as a trial program for next school year after not being able to collect enough data in previous years due to the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the 2019-20 school year, students were transitioned to remote learning in March and did not return to classrooms full time until a year later, more than halfway through the 2020-21 school year. During this time, the district experienced a high amount of employee absences for a variety of reasons, including quarantining due to possible exposure to COVID-19.

The PLIP will be reviewed annually by the Cabell County Board of Education concerning approval for the next school year. Continuation of the program will be determined by the availability of funds and effectiveness of the program determined by the reduction in total number of personal leave days used by employees.

In order to qualify, an employee must have been hired by the BOE as a regular, full-time or half-time employee with a first day of work prior to Jan. 1 of the current school year. Each employee must also complete the terms of their employment and not end their employment before the scheduled end date of their contract in order to maintain eligibility.

In other business, the board recognized several students for various accomplishments, including six Barboursville Middle School students who will represent West Virginia at the Esri 2021 Map Competition for U.S. schools.

Two other BMS students were recognized for award-winning entries in West Virginia American Water’s sixth annual “Protect our Watersheds” Art Contest. In addition, Huntington High senior Caden Spencer received recognition from board members and administrators for winning national titles in floor exercise, vault and parallel bar at the 2021 Men’s Development Program National Gymnastics Championships.

Luke Creasy is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @LukeCreasy or reach him by phone at 304-526-2800.

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