CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson has announced a plan to update Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) parental leave policy.

Under Johnson’s proposal, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all CPS employees will receive 12 weeks of paid parental leave. This would apply to both birthing and non-birthing parents and include parents who expand their family through other means, such as adoption.

Johnson made the announcement alongside CPS CEO Pedro Martinez and Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) president Stacy Davis Gates.

“Nearly 80% of CTU members are women,” she said. “This policy makes sense and it should never be at a negotiating table.”

CPS fully embraced the proposal.

“We think this could add, potentially, another $10 million to the budget,” he said.

Martinez noted the exact details of how the proposed policy would be implemented are still being worked out. The Chicago Board of Education would ultimately have to approve the policy.

“I will tell you I think it’s a worthwhile investment because the reality is we lose teachers when they start having children,” Martinez said. “I think we’re going to be in a better position to recruit teachers.”

According to Johnson, the proposed policy would align CPS employees’ parental leave benefits with those of other city employees. A former schoolteacher, Johnson noted the challenges of having a family while trying to teach. 

“Caring for those who care for us, that is who we are,” Johnson said. “This policy is a huge win for CPS employees and parents for our entire city.”

News of the expanded leave prompted a response from Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which read in part, “Any update on when Chicago police officers will get this paid parental leave ‘already provided to all 32,000 city employees?'”

A joint CPS-CTU parental leave working group has been established to implement the new leave policy collaboratively.