Sabbatical Leave Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Sabbatical Frequently Asked Questions

Sabbatical information is now available for the 2024-25 school year (please see below)

How many sabbaticals will be awarded for the 2024-25 school year?

The district will award a total of 56 sabbaticals in the 2023-24 school year.  Below are the number awarded to each bargaining unit:

  • UESF: 66 sabbatical awards
  • UASF: 6 sabbatical awards

How is seniority for sabbaticals determined?

In accordance with UESF contract Section “Sabbatical leaves must be preceded by at least seven consecutive years of teaching service, all of which shall have been full-time service as tenured, probationary or long-term substitute status in the San Francisco Unified School District.  For contractual employees initially hired by the District on or after July 1, 1998, “full time service (1.00 FTE)”  is defined as tenure track service.  Qualifying service shall be construed as being in paid District status for seventy-five (75%) of the teaching days in each school year.  Failure to be in paid District status for seventy-five (75%) of the teaching days in any given year due to being on an unpaid leave shall not constitute an interruption in the seven (7) consecutive year period."

What happens if I am on the wait list?

Every year, the total number of sabbatical applications exceeds the number of available sabbatical awards.  Employees with the highest seniority in their bargaining unit are offered a sabbatical and the remaining employees are placed on a waiting list.  If an awardee declines their sabbatical, the sabbatical slot is reopened and whoever is next on the waiting list will be offered the sabbatical award.  Employees on the wait will be notified of their award between March 1st - 15th.

Are any other factors considered in determining who will be awarded a sabbatical, i.e. teacher performance, specific professional expertise, quality of proposed project, awards?

Staff with an Unsatisfactory Performance Reviews are ineligible to take sabbatical leave. Paid or unpaid bargaining unit member status is not a factor in award determination.

May I combine a travel and a study sabbatical in the same semester?

A travel and a study sabbatical may NOT be combined in a single semester.

Given the Teacher Summary Evaluation process may not be completed until May 15th, how can I commit to buying the required bond for my approved sabbatical leave?

In order to be eligible for a sabbatical leave, a teacher’s summary evaluation for the year in which the sabbatical is requested may not be “unsatisfactory” (refer to Teacher Contract: Article  If you have any doubts as to whether the type of evaluation you may receive will interfere with your eligibility for a sabbatical, you should talk to your supervisor before purchasing your bond. 


May I begin my sabbatical leave while I am still attempting to secure a bond?

No. If you are not able to secure a bond by the deadline, the next person on the waiting list will be offered an opportunity for a sabbatical leave.  Given different bonding companies have different requirements (home ownership, credit rating, etc.), it is very important to begin the process of applying for a bond as soon as possible once you have been notified that you are being awarded a sabbatical.

Where can I purchase my sabbatical bond?

Most auto, life and home insurance companies are able to issue a sabbatical leave bond.  San Francisco Unified School District does not endorse any particular bond company.

May I take summer school units at the end of a spring sabbatical semester?

No.  Per contract section “Not less than seven (7) semester units shall be completed during each semester while on such leave, and no more than two (2) semester units of summer school credit shall be counted.”  Summer school semester units may only be taken prior to the beginning of a fall sabbatical – and as per the above, with a maximum of two summer school semester units.

Who qualifies as a “project supervisor” for my project sabbatical?

The project supervisor must be a site Administrator or a professor from an accredited College or University.

May I take online or correspondence courses to satisfy my study sabbatical requirements?

No.  You must physically attend class in order to meet sabbatical course requirements.  Note: While there are challenges to in-person learning due to COVID-19, this criteria is written in your bargaining unit contract and therefore it must remain until altered or amended by agreement by both the bargaining unit and the district via regular contract negotiation or sideletter MOU. As of today, this has not been changed or amended.

A study sabbatical leave requires completion of 18 College semester units. Must these units be upper division courses? Are courses from City College acceptable?

The only requirement is that all semester units be taken at an accredited College/University within the sabbatical period.


While I am on a study sabbatical, may I take non-education related courses, i.e. meet personal objectives?

See the above Q & A


If I begin my study sabbatical and then take college units for which SFUSD is paying a stipend upon completion, may the units count toward my sabbatical and if so, will receiving the stipend be considered a conflict of interest?

As part of your approved study sabbatical, the units may count towards completion of your study sabbatical requirement.  However, if you elect to have these units count towards completion of your study sabbatical requirement, you are not eligible for any stipend.  You may select one or the other.

What is the difference between “retraining” and “study” sabbaticals?

A retraining sabbatical requires that you fully complete a degree credential or certificate.  A full year study sabbatical requires the completion of 18 units of study at an accredited College/University.

Will the district remove/amend the Travel Sabbatical due to COVID-19 travel restrictions?

Though COVID-19 presents challenges around the Travel sabbatical, it is still offered in accordance with your bargaining unit contract; it cannot be amended or changed without mutual agreement of both your bargaining unit and the district via contract negotiations or a sideletter MOU.  At present, employees are not encouraged to take a travel a sabbatical if they cannot ensure they will be able to fulfill the requirements of their sabbatical.

What is meant by a “day” in meeting the requirement to be in travel status for 75% of the time while on sabbatical?

A calendar day (Monday through Sunday); travel is not confined to days would have normally been expected to work.


How far do I have to “travel” on a travel sabbatical?

An exact travel mileage requirement is not stated, rather the travel destination, in conjunction with the travel objectives, as presented and approved for your travel sabbatical must be met.  You will be informed if your proposed travel objectives are acceptable prior to your sabbatical leave approval.  If you need to change your travel plans from your approved travel sabbatical leave, you must request Human Resources approval.

If I want to recommend someone to substitute teach for me while I am on sabbatical, may I do so?

The temporary teacher who will replace you while you are on sabbatical leave will be selected by your site administrator.  You are free to present your recommendations to your site administrator.


Will my benefits be reduced while I am on sabbatical leave?

All your benefits remain the same as long as you are on an approved sabbatical leave.


How will my reduced salary affect my voluntary deductions (TSAs, etc.)?

All your authorized TSAs and voluntary deductions will continue up to the maximum of your salary.  However, please remember that while you are on sabbatical leave, your annual gross salary will be reduced to 60%.  This may result in a substantially reduced paycheck if you do not adjust your voluntary deductions.  Please consider this in deciding whether or not to continue your TSAs or other voluntary deductions at their present level during your sabbatical leave.

If the Board has already approved my requested sabbatical leave and I have already submitted the required sabbatical bond, may I still change the length of my proposed sabbatical? May I change the purpose (i.e. study, travel or special project)? The per

Once your sabbatical leave has been approved by the Board:

  • You may request to change the purpose of your sabbatical.
  • You may not request to change the period (semesters) once your sabbatical has been sent to the Board for approval.
  • You may request to rescind your sabbatical for illness, injury or other good cause:-
    • If your request is approved by the Board after your classroom position has been filled by a temporary teacher, you may apply for another position, and if selected, you may work at another site for the duration of the original sabbatical period.  After this period is complete, you may return to your original site.
    • If your request is approved by the Board prior to your classroom position being filled by a temporary teacher, you may remain at your original site.

Do I get to keep my district provided laptop while on Sabbatical?

No. Employees taking Sabbatical leave are required to return their district provided laptops to the Department of Technology prior to their leave.

May I work for San Francisco Unified School District as a day-to-day substitute or as a consultant while I am on a sabbatical leave?

May I work for another school district/public education entity while I am on sabbatical leave?

No.  If you become an employee of another California school district while on sabbatical leave from San Francisco Unified School District, you will have violated the sabbatical agreement and will be liable for all sabbatical payments received from the District and additional discipline up to and including separation from service at SFUSD.


May I take a personal leave of absence upon return from a sabbatical leave?

No.  You may not take an unpaid personal leave of absence until after you have completed the required service period (twice the sabbatical leave period) upon your return from sabbatical leave.


What if I return to work and need to take an extended medical leave of absence?

Personal leaves are not allowed, however medical necessity leaves, with appropriate medical documentation, may be approved; sick leave and maternity leave are two examples of medical necessity type leaves that may be taken after return from sabbatical during the required service time.  Please note: while you may receive 60% while on sabbatical, for the purposes of FMLA and CFRA, this does not count as time worked.  It is likely that you will not be eligible for FMLA/CFRA until you have returned to work for at least 1 year -and- have worked 1,250 hours within that year to qualify for FMLA/CFRA protection

Will I get my project back?

Once your project has been approved by your project supervisor, delivered and approved by Human Resources dept., you will be notified and offered the opportunity to pick it up.  Due to the physical size of many projects, we may not be able to return by mail.

Is it possible for me to copyright my sabbatical work?

The general answer is no.  For specifics, please refer to Board Policy 4540, entitled Publication of Materials, listed below:

Governing Board Policy 4540

  1. Patentable or copyrightable materials developed by staff members in the course of carrying out their professional responsibilities on District time shall be the property of the District.
  2. Such materials developed partially on District time and partially on the employee’s personal time shall be the property of the District and the employee pursuant to a written contractual agreement between the employee and the District.
  3. Such materials created by an employee during personal time when not fulfilling contractual duties to the District are the property of the employee.

If I have already taken a sabbatical leave, how is my seniority counted for a new sabbatical?

Seniority is counted from the last sabbatical leave taken, not from your original seniority date, in order to allow as many eligible staff to take sabbatical leaves.


If I take a sabbatical, am I allowed to teach summer school (the summer immediately preceding the sabbatical as well as the summer right after the sabbatical)?

You are allowed to teach summer school when you are on sabbatical, both at the beginning of your sabbatical and during the summer after your sabbatical ends.

How is my sick leave bank credited while I am on sabbatical?

If you are on a full-year Sabbatical you will not get sick leave credit.  If you are on a split Sabbatical, for one semester only, you will be credited with five (5) days of sick leave during the semester you work.

Who may apply for a “split” semester sabbatical?

Anyone who can demonstrate that he/she meets the conditions of Art. of the UESF contract: “A teacher may apply for a “split” sabbatical where the teacher can demonstrate, with a course catalogue or other documentation that an education program is only offered at times when a full year sabbatical would not allow the teacher to fulfill the requirements of the program.  A split sabbatical is defined as the teacher taking one semester of the sabbatical in one school year and the second semester of the sabbatical in a subsequent year within and overall span of three (3) school years.”

What is an example of the phrase “within an overall span of three years”?

For “2020 - 2021,” “within the overall span of three years” would mean that the first semester of the split sabbatical must begin in the “2020 – 2021” school year and the second semester must be completed by 06/30/2023:

*07/01/2020 – 06/30/2021; *07/01/2021 – 06/30/2022; *07/01/2022 – 06/30/2023

Can I apply for a “split” sabbatical and go traveling one semester and study for another semester?

No, see above.  Split sabbaticals may only be taken to meet educational needs.

If I take a one semester sabbatical leave, may I request to take another semester sabbatical leave later on?

Your original application must list the total number of semesters (maximum-two) that you want to be on sabbatical leave.  If you are approved to take a one semester sabbatical leave and after Board approval decide that you want to take another semester sabbatical, you will need to apply for another sabbatical leave.  Your seniority for the new sabbatical leave will be calculated from the end of the one semester sabbatical you received.  You cannot “add” a semester to your original sabbatical leave once it has been approved.

This page was last updated on November 28, 2023