Park City Board of Education approves paid maternity and paternity leave
Several Park City School District employees waited with anticipation this summer as the Park City Board of Education deliberated adopting paid maternity and paternity leave in the district.
The policy went into effect to kick off the school year, granting district employees bringing home a new child up to 30 work days of paid leave. But as the Board continues to accept feedback about the policy, President Andrew Caplan said that there is still fine tuning to do.
“We will probably have to revise it several times as we learn about different things that come up,” he said.
Already, Caplan said the Board has had to discuss cases with special circumstances.
Micaela Carriel, the head coach of Park City High School’s girls’ soccer team and a social studies teacher, recently had a child and is eligible for paid leave. Her leave would have overlapped with her team’s season, however, so she talked with the Board about taking leave from her classroom but not her team.
After some back and forth with the Board, Carriel said she was told that, as the policy currently stands, she could either take leave from everything or not take leave at all. She chose to go back to work.
Caplan said defining what leave is for teachers has been complicated, since many teachers often work from home when they’re away from their classroom, creating lesson plans or talking with substitutes.
“Teachers are so dedicated that they don’t want to be necessarily on leave,” Caplan said. “They have such a bond and a sense of responsibility to the children in their classes and that are on their teams, that it is very difficult to step away.”
The Board also recently discussed when employees should be eligible for the paid leave, ultimately deciding at its most recent meeting to grant employees the benefit after they have worked in the district for at least 12 months, and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours.
Despite issues that remain unresolved, Caplan said he is happy that the Board now has a policy in place. In the past, district employees who had recently given birth were permitted to use up to 30 days of their sick days for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The sick days were accumulated over time, so those who had not accumulated the time were not able to take it off.
Employees who were not the birth mother could request up to 10 work days of leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
Carriel said she was grateful to have the option of taking paid leave and that she understands how complicated her unique situation was.
She plans to use the district’s unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act during the second quarter of school.
Caplan said that paid leave is not the norm for public school districts, but that the Board felt it would be best for teachers and students. It is estimated that it will cost the district $66,600 annually, based on an average of six events per school year.
Carriel agreed, saying it is a “generous policy” because it removes financial burdens from teachers. She said she knew of it benefiting four families within 24 hours of being put into place.
“It will trickle down and affect our students as well,” she said. “It’s one less burden that teachers have to have so when they come back, they are refreshed, ready and they are excited to be back at work. They are not coming back too early.”
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The Park City Board of Education is on track to place a bond on the ballot this fall to improve district facilities. The top priorities would be to put ninth grade in the high school, eighth grade in the middle school and to augment preschool offerings by expanding elementary schools.