ROUND ROCK, Texas — A petition for Round Rock ISD to implement a sick day bank for employees to give PTO to those who need it is making its rounds. Kristan Saucedo started the petition after hearing that Callison Elementary teacher Lauren Wilkins needed extra PTO time.
"I've never missed a day so that I could plan to have all of my days when I have a baby," said Wilkins.
But the fourth-grade teacher couldn't plan for what was coming next.
"Right now, we're going into emergency C-section," said Wilkins. "So turns out I had eclampsia."
At just over 25 weeks, baby Gianna was born with a hole in her heart.
"She was born only weighing one pound, seven ounces," said Wilkins.
"Two weeks after, I had to return back to work, to save my days for when she comes home," said Wilkins.
Gigi fought through surgery and other emergencies. The 36 days of PTO the Round Rock ISD teacher said she accrued over four years quickly dwindled to 13. A Round Rock ISD spokesperson said teachers get 10 PTO days every year.
"All my coworkers just kept telling me like, 'I would give you a day of mine,' like, 'I'm so sorry that you're going through this,'" said Wilkins.
The problem is, there is no sick day bank.
A Round Rock ISD spokesperson said the district removed its sick day bank in 2006 because of inequities. Back then, employees could choose who got their extra PTO. The spokesperson said the district is looking into reinstating the sick bank but with an application process. They said putting the bank back into place will be a long process. The spokesperson said the district must comply with state law and get approval from the Board of Trustees.
Round Rock ISD said it has a paid extended leave bank, but employees have to use all of their PTO and take off for six weeks straight before applying.
"It won't be six weeks straight, so I'm not eligible for the additional 10 days that you can get," said Wilkins.
Lauren's husband, Garrett Wilkins, works for the district, too.
"So we're not just one parent taking off; both are taking off," said Garrett.
Manor, Leander, Hays, Austin, Eanes, Del Valle and Manor ISD spokespersons said they all have some form of a sick time bank for employees.
For the Wilkins, their routine for almost three months has been leaving work and heading to the NICU.
"I've only held her four times," she said. "I've never heard her cry. I just want to be able to change her diaper."
The district said they work with individual employees to do everything within the constraints of state law and current policy to support them in times of need.
If the district changes its policy to allow employees to give PTO time, baby Gigi's family can make up for the lost time.
To help with medical expenses click on their GoFundMe here.
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