AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Tuesday recognized 40 graduates of the school district’s Leadership Academy.

The graduates have completed a program that includes five meetings over six months, said Melissa Stilley, the school system’s academic chief.

The sessions provide information on various areas of the school system, such as budgeting and finance, academics and child welfare, Stilley said.

The academy prepares the educators for leadership roles within the system’s schools or administration, she said.

Participants must attend all meetings, submit a portfolio of work and show evidence of 20 hours of leadership work within the schools, Stilley said.

This was the third year of the program, she said, and more than 130 people have graduated.

Forty-four of those graduates now serve in leadership positions in the district, she said.

The program is open to teachers, assistant principals and other certified personnel, she said.

The educators are not paid for participating in the academy, she said.

In other business, the board approved by a 6-3 vote a recommendation by the Finance Committee to eliminate the perfect-attendance bonus for teachers for the 2011-12 school year.

The move will save the district approximately $58,000, said Bret Schnadelbach, the system’s financial chief.

Board member Sandra Bailey-Simmons objected, saying the savings realized are too small to justify removing the bonus.

“It’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the very hard decisions we are going to have to make this year,” board member Al Link said. “But we have to start somewhere.”

Bailey-Simmons asked if the bonus had helped reduce teacher absenteeism.

“Over the last four years, we have continued to have a significant increase in substitute employee cost,” said Schnadelbach. “It did not decrease absenteeism.”

Board members Brett Duncan and Andy Anderson joined Bailey-Simmons in voting against the move.