One group of school employees has already faced losing the perk. The city initially eliminated sick leave conversion from its fiscal year 2011 budget, but instead negotiated furlough days with its bargaining units.

The city's move would have affected about 1,400 school employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union represents "essential employees," such as food service, custodians, maintenance workers, bus drivers and hall monitors.

Glen Middleton, chief of local chapters of AFSCME, said his workers wanted to keep sick leave conversion, a small check that comes in December, even if it meant an unpaid day off.

"They are expected to be at work every day, even when no one else is, and they don't mind that," Middleton said. "They want to be there for the students, and they just get a little extra at Christmastime."

2011 accrued leave payouts over $100,000

•Reginald Robinson, special education administration, 41 years: $177,952

•Patricia Shaw, principal, 38 years: $122,904

•Herbert Miller, principal, 36 years: $107,603

•Stephen Colbert, principal, 32 years: $107,554

•Michael Cheatham, principal, 40 years: $106,732

•Leslie Shepard, principal, 33 years: $105,877

•Michael Pitroff, chief technology officer, nine years: $104,094

•Hattie Singleton Robinson, academic dean, 39 years: $102, 573

•Nilah Briscoe, functional analyst, 33 years: $100,300

•Malcum Dates, director, 41 years: $100,048

Source: Baltimore school system