The print AJC offered several provocative education stories over the past few days, including one on the paid leave afforded teachers in large school districts.
The story was based on a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which noted wide differences nationwide in leave policies and amounts. (Before commenting, please try to read the report as it explains in detail how leave is defined.)
Who provides the least teacher leave? According to the report:
Of the 26 districts which offer 10 or fewer days of general leave, nine are located in Florida. California, Louisiana, and Texas each have four districts with relatively little leave.
The TR3 district with the least amount of general leave is Desoto County, Mississippi, which only gives teachers 9 days.Teachers working for the DeSoto County (Miss.) school system get the fewest days — nine.
Who gives the most leave? The report says:
“While Newark offers a small number of its teachers the most leave of any school district (25+ years of experience), Hartford, Connecticut offers all of its teachers 25 days of general leave each year (equivalent to five weeks, or 13 percent, of the school year). Twenty of those days are classified as sick leave but 5 can be used for personal reasons; teachers then get an additional 5 personal days after they’ve used all of their sick leave, effectively blurring any distinction between the two types of leave.
Two other districts offer general leave that adds up to 13 percent of the days teachers work each year: Toledo and Burlington, Vermont. In both of these districts, teachers get 24 days of general leave each year.
The AJC story looked at leave in the largest Georgia districts:
Fulton County is far and away the best place to work if you’re a metro Atlanta teacher looking for the most days off a year. Fulton teachers with 10 or more years’ experience receive 20 general leave days a year, which is among the most in the nation, according to a survey by the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, which ranked 113 school systems nationwide.
By contrast, Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County and Gwinnett County teachers get only 12.5 general leave days a year. Of the core metro counties, Cobb County offers the fewest (11.9). In Fulton, even teachers with less than 10 years’ experience get 15 general leave days a year.
General leave includes sick days and personal days off, according to the study.
Teachers already work fewer days per year — about 185 — than employees in other professions, who average about 230 work days a year. National Council on Teacher Quality president Kate Walsh said that although public schools have cut budgets in recent years, few if any have cut days off. That’s not a political battle a superintendent wants to fight, ” she said.
I called Fulton County to verify its leave policy and to make sure the numbers in the report were correct. I received this response:
The numbers are accurate. State law requires 12.5 days and we go beyond that by 2.5 days (15 days maximum) for employees with less than 10 years of service. And 20 days maximum for employees with more than 10 years of service. This leave is district policy, approved by the Fulton County School Board. As with all policies, this policy will be reviewed routinely to consider any need for adjustment.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog