S.C. Public School Educators and Staff Now Assured of Paid Family Leave

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S.C. Public School Educators and Staff Now Assured of Paid Family Leave

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WD24Local) – South Carolina has taken a significant stride, joining the ranks of only a few states nationwide, to ensure that all public school teachers receive a minimum of six weeks of paid leave upon the arrival of a new child.

This academic year marks the inaugural implementation of the state’s novel school employee paid family leave legislation.

Governor Henry McMaster gathered with educators and state officials at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill for an official bill signing event, commemorating this noteworthy achievement.

The policy, effective since late June, has already started to alleviate uncertainties for prospective parents like Carson Coomes.

“As an educator, a job I’m deeply passionate about, the concern of taking time off to embrace motherhood was a significant worry,” remarked Coomes, the orchestra director at Blythewood Middle School within Richland School District Two.

Previously, South Carolina public school parents had to rely on their vacation and sick days, and even unpaid leave, in the immediate weeks following childbirth or adoption.

However, this year marks a transformative change.

Dr. Tommy Schmolze, Superintendent of Rock Hill Schools, stated, “We are committed to ensuring our educators aren’t faced with the dilemma of choosing between their careers and starting a family.”

This newly enacted South Carolina legislation guarantees six weeks of paid leave for public school employees giving birth or serving as primary caregivers for adopted children.

For parents not giving birth, adopting but not being the primary caregiver, or fostering children, a two-week leave is granted.

Within a 12-month period following birth, adoption, or fostering, school staff can avail this leave. This arrangement ensures that individuals experiencing these life events during summer break will still access their full paid leave entitlement. However, if part of the leave is taken at the end of the school year, districts will decide whether the remaining leave is taken at the beginning of the next school year or is concluded.

Crucially, taking paid leave will not affect the time needed for educators to advance on the teacher pay scale.

Senator Sean Bennett, R – Dorchester, emphasized, “This legislation underscores our commitment to our dedicated teachers, as well as our aspiration to foster strong families within South Carolina.”

Despite the General Assembly not designating specific funding for schools to implement this legislation, state leaders highlight that every district is receiving a higher budget allocation from this year’s state budget compared to the previous year. They express confidence that districts will have sufficient resources to address any additional costs.

Governor McMaster concluded, “Apart from encouraging more individuals to enter the teaching profession, which I believe it will, this legislation will ultimately result in substantial cost savings.”

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