School board approves paid maternity leave
May 28, 2020
WORLAND – The Worland school board met on Monday night in the Middle School Auditorium to hold their regular monthly meeting for the first time since February, while adhering to social distancing guidelines with audience members.
The school board passed on third and final reading their policy 1.15 pertaining to sick bank leave and paid maternity leave.
WCSD No. 1 joins Platte County School District No. 1 (Wheatland) as the only districts in the state to guarantee paid maternity leave. Maternity leave is already guaranteed under national law by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but under that law the mother would not be paid the time off for the leave of absence.
The new policy guarantees six calendar weeks of paid leave for a natural birth, along with eight calendar weeks for a caesarean section (C-section) birth during the school year. If there is a complication in the birthing process and more time off is needed, additional sick bank leave may be used. Under the FMLA this would also apply to the adoption of a child.
The school board also voted to waive the April 15 deadline to submit for a leave of absence, policy 1.15 (e), which would allow the board to grant up to a year of leave due to the coronavirus. Should a personnel member decide to apply for a year of leave, they must submit an application prior to June 15 stating when the date of leave will begin and when they will return.
Applications that are submitted would still need to be approved by the board at the June meeting.
The board understands there are teachers and personnel who are afraid for their health due to the nature of the disease, and those who are in a higher risk category. In the policy the board shall return the employee to a position that they are qualified for but not necessarily the one they left, and tenure status will be maintained along with personal leave and sick leave days that have been accumulated.
If the teacher is seeking to take a year for leave of absence due to COVID-19, then they will not receive “any salary or remuneration from the school.” They will retain insurance benefits as long as they pay the monthly premium. Employees who are granted the year of leave must notify the superintendent in the month of March next year that they will return, otherwise their employment status is not guaranteed to be returned.
“It is just being honest,” Superintendent David Nicholas said. “If the kids are back here our teachers are going to be back here, I can’t have a teacher teach from distance and kids in the room, they have got to be together.”
Middle School Principal Ryan Clark was honored with the Master Teacher Award, and Kara Anderson was awarded with the Bell Ringer Award as someone outstanding from the community that has helped the school district over the years. More on these awards will be published in a future edition of the Northern Wyoming News.
The board approved a second reading on policy 2.29 regarding retention of students. If passed on a third reading it will add a retention scale to help provide more information to help teachers and administrators to make decisions regarding whether or not to retain a student.
Nicholas expects that there should be a plan formulated prior to the June meeting to present to the board in regards to how school would start and what specific protocols would be in place to start the year, and how the school would react should an outbreak occur. A plan is required by the Wyoming Department of Health prior to reopening in the fall, with the fall semester set to begin on August 18.
Tracy Worrall, Denise Herman, Mary Ann Sapp and Kerri Barent had their resignations approved in order to retire.
Jessica Tharp was approved for a vacant special education (SPED) position in the district, where she will be placed at this time is not certain as there are multiple positions vacant for SPED.
Aaron Abel was hired as the new activities director (AD) for the high school with the board asking for a document regarding hierarchy and procedures for when Abel is head boys basketball coach in the winter. Abel vacated his assistant coaching job for football, more to come in next week’s edition of the Northern Wyoming News.
Coaches were retained for spring sports along with the approval of Willie Wright for assistant high school football coach, Karsyn Maya for eight-grade head volleyball coach pending certification, and high school girls basketball coaches being hired back after a failed vote on their status last month. Middle school girls soccer still contains an open position.
Nicholas said with the 2021 year if an event or sport does not happen, then coaches would not be paid, the exception happened this spring because sports had already started just before the closure of schools and cancellation of activities.
Summer school is set to begin on June 1, with restrictions put in place for students entering the building to have their temperature taken and wear masks along with enforcing social-distancing rules.
Extra duty assignments for teachers at the high school and middle school levels were approved to be the same as last year, with high school flag supervisor, high school athletic trainer and middle school yearbook being open.
Awards for state speech and debate recognition along with awards for Wind River District Speech and Debate recognition were sent out in order to not overflow the auditorium and exceed social distancing guidelines that are in place.