Bakken brings up the issue in voting against Melbye’s contract as swimming pool manager

    When the Crookston School Board recently approved a contract agreement with new Crookston Swimming Pool Manager Marley Melbye, the vote was not unanimous. While Melbye has the support of the full board, it was the 14 sick days included in her contract that apparently spurred board member Keith Bakken to cast the lone no vote.   

    “A lot of businesses are going with PTO (personal time off) instead of traditional sick days, and Keith asked why we aren’t doing that,” Superintendent Chris Bates said. “In theory, it’s a pretty simple thing. With PTO, you call and say you’re not coming in for a day or a week and it doesn’t matter if you’re sick or going on vacation. You don’t need to question someone’s honesty, you don’t need a doctor’s note. It’s pretty cut and dried.”   

    But Bates said he doesn’t think it’s the best fit with school districts, where teachers don’t work a full 12-month calendar year. “I had a colleague in a district that changed to PTO,” he recalled. “The first eight days of the school year, all of the social studies staff went to Colorado. Some people in town said, ‘You just had all summer off.’ But it was their right. I think that shows, though, how it might not work in schools.”   

    That said, Bates realizes that Melbye will work 12 months a year. Her contract is a school board issue because the school district owns the pool. “I know the pool is different than a school, but the PTO issue didn’t come up in the Personnel Committee,” Bates said. “The contract was ready to go and it was important to get Marley ready to go with the new job as soon as possible.”   

    The teachers haven’t brought up the PTO issue in contract negotiations, either, Bates said. “I think we’d be cautious if they mentioned it, but they haven’t,” he said. “Schools that have tried PTO in recent years have gone back to traditional sick days. I think people realize that we need our people here when students are here. If we had a 12-month school year it might be a different story.”