Minot Public School Board members approved on Monday several teacher requests to take a year's leave to stay home with their children, but administrators question whether Minot's housing crunch might make it hard to fill teaching and administrative positions.
The unpaid "child rearing leave" is in the negotiated contract agreement for Minot teachers and enables teachers to take up to two years leave to care for children. One or two times the board has made an exception and granted a three-year leave. At the end of the leave, teachers are asked to either come back to work for the school district or to resign their teaching position. Teachers who return from a child-rearing leave aren't guaranteed that they will be able to teach in their old school or at the same grade level.
Board president Nancy Langseth said the school district is a "family friendly employer" and offering the child-rearing leave is about being family friendly. Not many other employers offer such a benefit for their employees, she said.
Teachers who were granted the leave said in letters to the school board that the leave will let them be with their children.
"I love my job so much, but I'd like to be home for a while (while) my baby is little!" wrote Rachel Lindquist, a fourth-grade teacher at Sunnyside Elementary.
"I have enjoyed the time with our son immensely," wrote teacher Darcy Klingbeil, who was granted a second year of child rearing leave. "The opportunity to see him grow up has been priceless so far. We are also expecting another little one in August now. Thank you for offering Child-Rearing Leave as an option for staff members."
Teacher Jessica Mowbray wrote that she plans to use her child-rearing leave "to stay home with my children, transport my youngest to preschool three days a week and our eldest to school and his activities, and help my husband with the family business."
Five child-rearing leave requests were approved on Monday and Assistant Superintendent Arlyn Marquardt said he knows that other teachers plan to apply in coming weeks.
A number of other administrators and teachers submitted letters of resignation or seeking early retirement at Monday's meeting, including Erik Ramstad Middle School principal Jim Tschetter, who has presided over the flooded school's relocation to the Minot Municipal Auditorium during the current school year.
"Obviously we have some key positions to fill," said Marquardt, who is himself retiring after this school year.
Assistant Superintendent Jeff Holm suggested that it might be a challenge to fill some of those positions in the future because of the difficulty new hires will have in finding affordable housing.