Chicago education officials will vote next week to officially codify new changes that will grant teachers and school leaders additional parental leave time, bringing them in line with other city workers.
The Board of Education is set to approve an expanded parental leave program for Chicago Public Schools employees that will give birthing and non-birthing parents up to 12 weeks of paid time off after they have a child.
“Many educators have been pushing for this for a long time, particularly adoptive parents, so I’m glad that this is moving forward,” board member Elizabeth Todd-Breland said during Wednesday's agenda review committee meeting.
Until now, birthing parents received six-to-eight weeks of short-term disability leave, while non-birth parents got two weeks of paid leave. The new policy brings CPS in line with other city workers, who already received up to 12 weeks of leave.
Mayor Brandon Johnson announced this change back in June, but said it wouldn’t be approved until later in the summer. That gave CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union time to review and tweak the policy through a joint working group.
While the policy won’t officially be approved until next week, it was enacted last month at the start of the current school year, according to Karla Kirkling, the district’s executive director of healthcare and benefits.
“From an equity focus, we believe the extension of leave benefits to all parents — regardless of gender or biological relationship to the child — creates a more inclusive and supportive work environment,” Kirkling said. “Furthermore, equitable pay family leave policies acknowledge the financial needs and challenges faced by all parents and this helps provide a safety net for families.”
Kirkling said CPS also sees this policy as an attractive benefit to recruit and retain educators and employees.
She told the board Wednesday that 471 CPS educators and employees have already requested or been approved for this leave, which carries an estimated cost of $8.3 million.
According to Kirkling, CPS estimates spending an additional $16 million on this for the rest of the current school year.
The board will vote on this policy during its monthly meeting next week.