* You may recall this development from yesterday…
Chicago Public Schools upped the stakes of its legal challenge to state education funding on Monday, warning that the school year could end nearly three weeks early and summer school programs could be cut if the district doesn’t get a quick and favorable ruling.
But shortening the school year on top of four previously imposed furlough days may not even fully close the budget gap. In court documents, CPS estimated saving $91 million, and an additional $5 million from canceling summer school for elementary and middle-school general education students. Claypool called those estimates “conservative.”
Chopping off 13 days will push CPS’ school year below the state’s legal threshold, meaning that some state aid will be jeopardized, too. ISBE requires 180 class days for full funding and counts CPS as having four more days than required.
Claypool said CPS attorneys believe they have even more wiggle room.
Do they really have wiggle room and how much will shutting down early cost CPS?
* From the Illinois State Board of Education…
School districts need to code in 185 days to ensure they get a minimum of 176 student attendance days, which can include two full-day parent teacher conferences. (The 185 days will include 4 Teacher Institutes and 5 emergency days. Districts can lower the student attendance days to 174 by adding a max of 2 Full Day Parent Teacher Conferences.)
(105 ILCS 5/10-19) (from Ch. 122, par. 10-19)
Sec. 10-19. Length of school term - experimental programs. Each school board shall annually prepare a calendar for the school term, specifying the opening and closing dates and providing a minimum term of at least 185 days to insure 176 days of actual pupil attendance,
If a district decides to have fewer days than the required minimum, then for every day below the minimum, their General State Aid would decrease by 1/176. The GSA reduction would be based on and assessed on the Fiscal Year 2018 GSA claim.
From the School Code:
Except as otherwise provided in this Section, if any school district fails to provide the minimum school term specified in Section 10-19, the State aid claim for that year shall be reduced by the State Superintendent of Education in an amount equivalent to 1/176 or .56818% for each day less than the number of days required by this Code.
Districts can petition the General Assembly for a waiver from the minimum number of attendance days. However, historically, the General Assembly has not approved such requests. The General Assembly received the Spring waiver report today. Therefore, the next opportunity for a district to apply for a waiver would be in August 2017 for consideration in October 2017.
So, it may be too late for CPS to get a waiver. They’d better try, though. Read on.
* Being nine days short of the state minimum would cost CPS about 5 percent of its GSA entitlement claim (.56818% x 9 days = 5.11%).
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, CPS’ FY17 GSA entitlement claim was $890,528,630. That’s based on its 2015-2016 attendance. They don’t know what the current year’s attendance will be, of course, but assuming it’s the same as last year then CPS would lose a bit under $5.1 million for each of those nine days, for a total of around $45.5 million, which is about half of what CPS says it’ll save by closing schools early.
That reduction to CPS funding won’t come until next fiscal year, but that means next year’s hole just got bigger.