First, you need to read your contract. My contract says I'm allowed to take 20 days before and 20 days after the EDD, using sick days. Then, I can use the new NJ Family Leave law (which pays 2/3 salary for up to 6 weeks). Then, I can use FMLA to maintain my benefits without getting paid. I am not being forced to use all of my sick days, but because it's only my 4th year in the district, I will be.
Here's the way it's working for me: my EDD is 3/8.
* My last day of work is 2/19
* I'm using sick/personal days until the day after spring break, so I'll get normal paychecks until then
* After that, I'm doing the 6 weeks of NJ Family Leave--I think I get paid through the state. Not sure, but I imagine that my "summer vacation fund" will be used then, and then my NJFL checks will come later. Just anticipating beaucracy!
* The last couple of weeks of the school year, the NJFL will run out, so I won't get any pay in June. I'll still be insured though.
* My contract says I can take up to a calendar year off, but I'll be returning to school in September due to financial constraints
* We get our sick days at the beginning of the year, so I'll start out the year with 10 sick + 3 personal + 3 family illness that I can use.
Your district can absolutely NOT dictate when you can have a baby. You just need to plan, financially.
If you don't have a copy of your contract, you may be able to find it online at NJ Perc: http://www.perc.state.nj.us/publicsectorcontracts.nsf
Here's info about the NJ Family Leave Act:http://www.njbia.org/pdf/paidleaveff.pdfhttp://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/fli/fliindex.html
Just be aware that if you are the first person in your district to take use the NJ Family Leave Insurance, you may struggle a bit with them. You are entitled to it, but they may not know how to do actually file for it. My colleague who was the first to take it in our district said that there was some confusion and some delay in getting her checks.