Four Olentangy school board members declined one member's request to reduce the maximum number of sick leave days an employee can accumulate.

Four Olentangy school board members declined one member's request to reduce the maximum number of sick leave days an employee can accumulate.

Member Adam White told the board Jan. 26 that he wants to see the 300-day maximum reduced to 120 days, the minimum required by the state.

"It looks like one of the only things we can control with benefits, or at least put a policy in place," White said. "Private sector is about five days. If you just did the minimum, 120 days, it would still be 24 times what the private sector gets."

"The 300 comes from the teachers' negotiated agreement," said Linda Martin, assistant superintendent, and the board could change the number in the policy, but that wouldn't affect the contracts.

Such a change would affect only nonunion employees, about 350 of the district's 1,800 employees.

Board president Dave King said changing sick leave policy would require new contract negotiations, which are scheduled for this year.

Member Julie Feasel, Stacy Dunbar and Kevin O'Brien agreed.

O'Brien said he did not want to single out a segment of employees by making such a change.

"You'd have a segment of the employee base that would have a reduced benefit. I think if we can change this in the larger group with negotiations, then we cascade it to the rest of the population. I'm not disagreeing with an opportunity to make some change," O'Brien said.

Martin said the district has 19 employees who have accrued 300 days.

District employees accrue 1.25 sick days per month, district spokesperson Karen Truett told ThisWeek.

Upon retirement, employees get paid 30 percent of the value of their accrued sick days.

Truett said school employees get no short-term disability, as the private sector does, and must rely on their accrued sick days for paid sick leave.

To offer employees short-term disability pay, the district would have to buy supplemental insurance, which it does not, she said.

Board members also:

• Heard district residents Bud Abraham, Tracy Ruegg and Karl Salmon say they have concerns about a proposal from Laurie Karr, owner of Buckeye Swim Club, to put a 10-lane, above-ground swimming pool on school property.

For use of district land, Karr would provide free pool time for district swim practices and other student activities. The facility also would be used as a swim-club business.

The residents cited a conflict of interest because Karr is Olentangy Liberty High School swim and dive teams' head coach. They said the proposal requires considerable research and public discussion, and they worried about liability issues.

King said the board and administration would "carefully investigate this project."

• Heard Superintendent Wade Lucas say the district is considering starting the next school year earlier, on Aug. 14, to allow for final examinations before winter break. In June 2009, the board approved an Aug. 22 return for the 2012-2013 school year.