EDUCATION NOTEBOOK: Maternity leave benefit for public school district employees coming | LRSD leaders seek ideas from the public

Maternity leave benefit coming

The Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has taken initial steps to put in place a cost-sharing maternity leave benefit for public school district employees, including open-enrollment charter school employees.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders included in the Arkansas LEARNS Act or Act 237 of 2023 a provision in which the state will split 50-50 with districts the cost of up to 12 weeks of maternity leave.

Participation in a cost-sharing agreement with the state by a school system is voluntary. It is up to the district or charter school to set a number of weeks -- up to 12 -- that an eligible employee may receive paid maternity leave and whether the employee will receive full or partial compensation during leave.

An eligible employee is one who works at least 30 hours per week and has worked for at least a year for the district.

Kimberly Mundell, a spokesperson for the state agency, said $3 million has been budgeted by the state for the benefit. Other details will be addressed in yet-to-be published rules for carrying out the law.

Districts are to submit to the state any cost-sharing agreement they reach with their personnel policies committees by April 1. Approved cost-sharing agreements will be retroactive to July 1, 2023, according to the education division.

LRSD to hold public forums

Little Rock School District leaders are continuing to seek proposals from members of the public on ways the district can better attract families to district schools, as well as operate more efficiently in an effort to cut as much as $15 million in expenses.

The district has placed on its lrsd.org website information on the number of buildings in the district, their age, and the construction needs. A study of past, current and future enrollment trends -- tied to housing construction -- is also included.

District leaders are inviting the public to view the information and submit online ideas and proposals through Friday.

There will then be community meetings -- in-person and virtual -- to discuss the proposals. The meeting dates are:

Nov. 8: Noon at Pinnacle View Middle School.

Nov. 8: 6 p.m., Martin Luther King Elementary School.

Nov. 10: 8 a.m., Hall STEAM Magnet High School.

Nov. 11: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Spirit Fest Table, Park Plaza Mall.

Nov. 13: 6 p.m., Chicot Elementary

Nov. 15: Noon online with a link that will be announced later.

Nov 15: 6 p.m. online with a link to be announced later.

Nov 17: Noon at Western Hills Elementary School.

Each of the sessions will be recorded and uploaded for later viewing.

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