April 13, 2018 Board of Regents Approves School Calendar Changes
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
In April 2017, and again in July, the New York State Education Department issued guidance memos clarifying the impact of scheduled half days upon the 180 session days required to receive the full amount of State Foundation Aid. Consistent with its July guidance, the Department convened an Advisory Committee this past Fall to review the existing 180-day requirement and make proposals to update the regulations and guidance. The Advisory Committee issued its recommendations for public comment in December 2017 and then, on April 5, 2018, issued its final proposed amendment to Commissioner’s Regulation §§ 175.2 and 175.5. On April 9, 2018, the Board of Regents P-12 Education Committee approved the proposed amendment, which was ratified by the full Board of Regents on April 10, 2018. The new Regulations will take effect on July 1, 2018 and districts must be in compliance for the 2018-2019 school year.
The new Regulations remove the daily minimum instructional hour requirement in favor of an aggregate yearly requirement of 450 hours for half-day kindergarten, 900 hours for full-day kindergarten through sixth grade and 990 hours for grades seven through 12. The annual aggregate requirement must still, however, be met over the course of 180 session days. Thus, rather than having 180 session days with the minimum number of hours, a school calendar can vary in terms of how many instructional hours are scheduled on any given day, as long as the aggregate requirement is met within 180 session days.
According to the Department, this change will give districts more flexibility in the scheduling of non-instructional time during the course of a school day by not requiring a minimum number of instruction hours in any given day. It will also allow districts that presently schedule more than the minimum daily instructional hours to have those hours counted toward the aggregate yearly minimum.
In addition, the new Regulations remove the cap on Superintendent’s Conference days taking place during the last two weeks of August. There is still an annual cap of four Superintendent’s Conference days that may be counted toward the yearly aggregate. The hours requirement also effectively removes all restrictions on when staff development and parent-teacher conferences may be held because of the absence of the minimum daily hour requirement. These non-instructional hours do not count toward the yearly minimum, but will no longer impact a district’s ability to meet that minimum as they did pursuant to the daily minimum hours requirement.
In direct response to the spate of nor’easters affecting the State over the last month, the Department also modified the Regulations with regard to late arrivals or early dismissals caused by weather events. Districts that open late or close early due to adverse weather conditions, loss of heat, insufficient water supply, shortage of fuel, destruction of a building or other cause found satisfactory by the Commissioner of Education, may have up to two hours considered as instructional time for that day, provided that: (1) the Superintendent certifies the existence of a qualifying extraordinary condition to the Commissioner; (2) school was scheduled to be in session; and (3) school was, in fact, in session on that day. The new Regulations also suggest, but do not require, districts to plan for (in the creation of the yearly calendar) the average number of snow day closures taken over the previous five years.
The Department anticipates that districts should have sufficient time to modify, as necessary, their 2018-2019 school calendars and complete any necessary collective negotiations relating to the modification of the school calendar necessitated by the new Regulations in time for the July 1, 2018 effective date. To ensure compliance, districts should immediately review their 2018-2019 school calendars. If modifications are required, districts should then review all of their collective bargaining agreements to determine what steps, if any, will be necessary to negotiate any changes with affected bargaining units.
If you have any questions regarding the Board’s recent changes, or how to modify your calendar to be in compliance with them, please contact Matthew J. Mehnert at email@example.com or one of our other attorneys.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2018