Know your benefits

Sabbatical leaves

Mature student with books

Did you think sabbaticals were just for university professors? Think again! UFT members who are teachers may apply for a sabbatical leave to enhance their teaching skills, restore their health if they are ill or achieve state certification in a shortage area.

For study sabbaticals, coursework must be rigorous and related to your teaching assignment. The application period is in March each year.

After seven years of regularly appointed service, all teachers are eligible for a sabbatical leave for restoration of health that lasts for up to six months. All sabbaticals for restoration of health must be approved by the medical director. If your application is denied, you may go to medical arbitration.

All teachers are eligible for a one-year study sabbatical after 14 years of service. (For your first 14-year sabbatical only, you can claim up to three years of regular substitute service for which salary credit was granted; the rest must be regularly appointed service.)

If you are a junior high or high school teacher, you can also apply for a six-month study sabbatical for the spring semester only.

During a study sabbatical, whether six months or a full year, teachers earn 70 percent of salary. During a medical sabbatical, teachers earn 60 percent of salary.

A study sabbatical is an opportunity to dream large. If you have always wanted to study or pursue a research project in another country, this could be your opportunity to do so — but be aware that courses taken in a foreign country must be at a college or university that is accredited in that country and must be courses that are approved by the New York State Education Department. You must include evidence of accreditation with your sabbatical application.

Courses must be taken during normal school hours when teachers would otherwise be at work. Online and weekend courses are not acceptable. If your superintendent does not approve your coursework or research project, you will have one week to resubmit your application.

Before retiring or leaving service, you are required to return to your position for one year after a six-month sabbatical and for two years after a one-year sabbatical. Other rules apply as well.

UFT borough offices hold sabbatical workshops to guide prospective applicants.

School secretaries and laboratory specialists and technicians hired before July 1, 1985, are eligible for study and health sabbatical leaves. However, UFT members in those titles hired after July 1, 1985 are only eligible for health sabbaticals, effective Sept. 1, 2007.

Teachers who are regularly appointed may apply for a special one-year or six-month sabbatical leave for study to meet certification requirements for a license designated as a shortage area license, such as speech improvement, secondary math or high school biology or physics. For this type of sabbatical, there is no years of service requirement.

Applicants must meet all other requirements for state certification in addition to having 16 or fewer remaining credits required to achieve state certification in the shortage license area. A minimum of eight credits must be earned during a six-month sabbatical and a minimum of 16 credits must be earned during a one-year sabbatical.

A teacher who receives this special sabbatical leave of absence for study must commit to completing state certification in the shortage area and accept an assignment to teach in the license area for a minimum of two years.

See the full list of shortage-area licenses and more detailed information about sabbatical leaves.

For this year’s deadlines, see the information box.

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