Employee and Retiree Service Center → Employees → Leave informationAcademic Leave  → Frequently Asked Questions

Academic Leave: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for academic leave?

Submit the following items by April 1 of the year prior to taking leave to the Employee and Retiree Service Center (ERSC), Attn: Leave Adminstration Team.
Leave request (MCPS form 430-1), signed by your principal/director
Current acceptance letter from the college or university, including verification of full-time student status
Proposed program with list of course titles and their credit value for each semester
Written answers to the Academic Leave Questions for Candidates.

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If I am eligible for academic leave, will my academic leave be approved?

Not necessarily.  Academic leave is a competitive process and limited funds are available for the leave, so, typically, only three or four candidates are granted leave each year.

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What does it mean that academic leave is a competitive process?

Once the academic leave application deadline has passed, each member of the Academic Leave Committee reviews each candidate’s application materials and rates the candidate on several criteria.  The candidate with the highest total ratings from the committee is the first candidate offered academic leave.  Academic leave offers are made to the top candidates, in order of the total ratings, until the academic leave funds are exhausted.

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On what criteria do the Academic Leave Committee members rate my application?

Critical Field – will the proposed field of study lead to a degree and/or set of skills that meet a critical need of MCPS?
Time Remaining to Completion of Program – how soon will the candidate complete the degree and/or acquire the skills that will allow him/her to provide MCPS with the benefit of the completion of the program
Quality of Recent Performance Evaluations
Number of Years of Service with MCPS
 

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How can I find out which fields of study are considered most critical by MCPS?

The ERSC has created the document “Critical Shortage Areas” that identifies highest, second highest, and third highest fields of need.  Generally speaking, candidates studying for degrees in the highest field of need receive the highest total ratings from the Academic Leave Committee.

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What are my options if I am not granted academic leave?

If you are eligible for academic leave, but are not among those candidates granted academic leave:

(a)  You may switch your leave request from academic leave to professional improvement leave.  Professional improvement leave is similar to academic leave. Professional improvement leave is full-time study that is unpaid leave.  This decision will need to be made as soon as you are notified that you have not been granted academic leave. Please have the answer to this option settled prior to April 1.

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Can I have academic leave for longer than one year?

No, academic leave is only granted for one year.  However, if you wish to remain on leave for an additional year to complete your program of study, you can apply for Unusual or Imperative Leave for Study.  This type of leave is not paid, does not count as a year of service, and benefits will be charged to you at full cost, should you choose to continue your benefits.

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Can I be on Academic Leave and work at the same time?

Academic leave is for full-time study, therefore permanent employment is not allowed while on leave.  You may engage in temporary employment, such as a teaching assistantship or substitute teaching, however, the total salary from your academic leave plus any salary from temporary employment cannot exceed the 100% salary you would have earned in your position if you did not participate in academic leave.

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When will I find out if I am granted academic leave?

It is expected that decisions about academic leave will be made no later than the week of April 21.  This will allow principals to identify the vacancies that will exist in their schools prior to the start of the teacher job fairs. 

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Do I continue to earn personal, sick, and/or annual leave while I am on academic leave?

No.  You do not earn leave while you are on academic leave.  All leave balances are frozen as of the date your academic leave begins.  Sick leave bank contributions are not required for the school year.

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Are my chances of getting approved for academic leave affected by whether I choose the 50% or 60% pay option?

No.  The pay option has no effect on the ratings that academic leave candidates receive – it is not one of the rating criteria used by the Academic Leave Committee.

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Other than the amount of pay I receive, what is the difference between the 50% and 60% pay option?

The only difference between the two pay options is the amount of service that you will owe to MCPS upon returning from leave.  With the 50% pay option, you are promising to continue to work for MCPS for two years following your return from leave.  With the 60% pay option, you are promising to continue to work for MCPS for three years following your return from leave.

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How will I get paid while I am on academic leave?

You will continue to receive biweekly paychecks while you are on leave, in accordance with the published schedule of paydays.  Once you are put into a long-term leave status, your biweekly attendance will be controlled and reported by ERSC Payroll Process staff, rather than the timekeeper at your school/office

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I use direct deposit for my paychecks – will direct deposit continue while I am on academic leave?

Yes, your direct deposit will continue while you are on academic leave.

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My anniversary date falls within the time period that I am on academic leave – will my salary be increased?

Yes.  If you have an anniversary/merit due during the school year, your biweekly academic leave salary will reflect this increase on the first day of the pay period when your anniversary/merit is effective.

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The course work I complete during the time I am on academic leave will qualify me for a higher salary lane – how do I get my salary changed?

If you qualify for a new salary schedule because of course work completed during your academic leave, you can use MCPS Form 475-1: Request for Advanced Salary Placement to request a salary change. YOU MUST REQUEST THIS CHANGE--THE CHANGE IS NOT AUTOMATIC. You also need to send your official transcripts to the Certification Unit in the Office of Human Resources to show successful completion of your courses before the salary change can be processed. 

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If the course work I complete while on academic leave will not qualify me for a higher salary lane, do I still need to submit official transcripts to the Office of Human Resources and Development?

Yes! Upon completion of your academic leave, you must send an official transcript to the Certification Unit in the Office of Human Resources so that your leave can be cleared (i.e., confirm successful completion of your academic leave) and your salary adjusted properly.

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What happens if I fail to complete my course work successfully or fail to complete the required service upon return to MCPS?

If you fail to meet contractual obligations or complete required service upon return to MCPS you will be responsible for the full cost of your leave on a prorated basis.  These costs include paid salary and MCPS contributions to your benefit plan and retirement. 

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What should I do if I have to change my leave status while I am on academic leave?

If your leave status needs to be changed while you are on academic leave (e.g., sickness, injury, child care) and you will not be able to complete your academic leave courses or obligations, please notify the Leave Administration Team in the ERSC immediately to convert you to the appropriate leave status.
For example, if you were injured in an automobile accident and could not finish your courses, you would be converted from academic leave to personal illness leave so that penalties associated with failure to meet academic leave obligations can be avoided or reduced.

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What happens after I complete my academic leave?

Prior to the completion of your academic leave, you will be contacted by MCPS regarding your return to active employment. There is no guarantee that you will return to your current position or location, or that you will be placed in a field related to your academic leave studies. When you are reassigned, you will be placed in a position of the same or higher salary than the position you held prior to going on academic leave. RESOURCE AND OTHER SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT INCLUDED IN THIS COMPUTATION.
 

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How can I stay informed of what is happening at MCPS while I am on academic leave?

The Bulletin keeps employees informed of important events and initiatives within MCPS. A new issue of The Bulletin is available online each week.

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Will union dues continue to be deducted from my pay while I am on academic leave?

Yes, union dues are deducted while you are on leave.  Dues are deducted at 50% the normal rate for MCEA and MCAAP employees and 100% for SEIU (formerly MCCSSE) employees.  If, for some reason, dues are not deducted while you are on leave and/or after your return from leave, you must contact your union.

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Is there a way that I can estimate what my biweekly gross pay will be while I am on academic leave?

Yes.  Please see Estimating Academic Leave Pay 

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