Union School District teachers will be forgiven 1 1/2 days of their 180-day contracts if the can document at least 10.5 hours of work outside the classroom this school year.

Teachers who attended the school board meeting Thursday night applauded when the measure passed, though it passed by a slim margin.

School board members Aaron Bockhorst, Tammy Weinhold, Karen Tucker and Virgil Weideman voted in favor of forgiving the days, while Ron Sohn, Gary Young and James Borgmann voted against the motion.

The forgiven days are for certified staff, not support staff.

Teachers who can’t document the additional hours must work the additional 1 1/2 days to fulfill their contracts. Hours must be submitted to principals before the last school day.

Because of snow days, teachers would have been required to be at the school after the students have been released for summer.

Several teachers spoke during the public comment session on the amount of work teachers do on their own time, outside of their contracts. One half day for teachers already was forgiven.

“Throughout the school year, I, as well as others in the Beaufort building, spend before and after contract hours with students to help them be successful,” said Sheila Baer, a music teacher at Beaufort Elementary.

Baer said she has logged more than 40 hours outside of her contracted time.

Others mimicked her sentiments.

Tina Brueggemann, a Union Middle School teacher, said that while she is vested in the district, she would appreciate it if the board could consider what teachers do outside their contract hours.

“I’m not quibbling that I have to work 180 days, what I am quibbling is that we have put in so many extra hours already outside of school,” Brueggemann said.

She said that in 19 years with the district she has never been asked to come in after the kids were out of school, with the exception of one time.

Superintendent Steve Bryant said he recognizes that teachers do a lot above and beyond to fulfill their contractual days, however, the goal was to provide an opportunity for teachers to collaborate and achieve training they normally couldn’t while students are in the building.

Each building administrator spoke on what they had planned for the additional 1 1/2 days teachers would be required to be in the building, ranging from professional development, to planning, curriculum building, personality testing, grade level meetings, units of instruction, working on response to intervention, character education program work and other training and activities.

Board members were split on the decision.

Sohn said he felt strongly that it would be best for kids if teachers worked the extra hours.

“I’ve always said kids come first, teachers come second and everyone else follows after,” Sohn said. “It is a chance to turn around and do something that will hopefully improve instruction for students, and that’s the reason why we are really supposed to be here.”

Sohn added that since scores were so low on the tests, “we owe it to the kids to do the best we can do for them.

“If what goes on that day will help some of them, it’s worth keeping all (teachers) here for that time,” he added.

Weideman, school board member, said he doesn’t think forcing the teachers to be in the building “will have any effect whatsoever” on instruction.

“I certainly don’t believe there is going to be too much beneficial activity to bring the teachers back in those last days, and as much as we’ve requested from the teachers and as much pressure we’ve put on the teachers, I think when we can do a little thing like this  — I think we owe it to the teachers to do it,” Weideman said.

Tucker said teachers have worked hard to improve scores on the standardized tests, and they’ve done all they could do at that point.