May 08, 2017 Impact of Half Days on Receipt of State Aid
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
The New York State Education Department recently issued a guidance memo to all school districts and BOCES clarifying the impact of half days upon the 180 session days required to receive the full amount of State aid. That memo is available at: https://stateaid.nysed.gov/attendance/sched_halfdays_180_days_of_session.htm. The Department’s guidance memo does not change its interpretation of the law and merely re-affirms the Department’s view on half days, although the Department may previously not have stringently enforced this law.
Pursuant to New York Education Law § 3604(7), school districts and BOCES must be in session for at least 180 full days to receive the full amount of State aid. If they are not, the amount of State aid “shall be reduced” 1/180 for each day below 180, subject to the Commissioner of Education’s ability to excuse as many as five days due to “extraordinarily adverse weather conditions.” It is rare for the Commissioner to excuse the need for days on this basis. The 180-day requirement includes all days on which attendance is taken; days on which Regents examinations, State Assessments or local examinations are given; and dates on which superintendent’s conference days are held.
Half days are defined as any day on which elementary school students receive fewer than five hours of instruction or secondary school students receive fewer than five and a half hours of instruction. Half days generally do not count toward the 180-day requirement, except when the district or BOCES has scheduled a half day for parent-teacher or staff conferences. In those instances, up to four half days may be counted toward the 180-day requirement if, and only if, the district or BOCES provides the minimum number of instruction hours in the week in which the conference day is scheduled (25 hours for elementary students and 27.5 hours for secondary school students). If a district or BOCES has scheduled only 180 session days and included one or more half days that do not fall under the exception in its calculation, then it will fall short of the requirement and could have its State aid reduced.
Based upon information obtained from the New York State School Boards Association, we anticipate that the Department will issue an updated guidance memo in the coming weeks that, we believe, will address enforcement issues relating to the impact of half days upon the 180-day requirement. Regardless, we recommend that all districts and BOCES immediately review their school calendar for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years and ensure that they are in compliance with the 180 session day requirements. Any changes to your school calendar may require negotiation with appropriate collective bargaining units.
If you have questions or would like to discuss potential solutions for an out of compliance calendar, please contact Matthew J. Mehnert at firstname.lastname@example.org or any 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 2017