What is forgiven time?
Section 101(4) of the State School Aid Act provides districts with six (6) days or the equivalent number of hours of “forgiven time” that can be used when pupil instruction is canceled due to conditions outside the control of school authorities, such as severe storms, fires, health conditions, and infrastructure issues. These initial days or hours can be used at any point throughout the year without prior authorization from the Department given the cancellation falls within the acceptable reasons.
In addition, Section 101(4) provides the State Superintendent the authority to allocate up to three (3) days or the equivalent number of hours of “forgiven time” to districts to be used when instruction was not provided due to unusual and extenuating occurrences resulting from conditions not within the control of school authorities, such as those described above.
Forgiven time and professional development:
Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, if all provisions of Section 101(10) of the State School Aid Act are met, districts may count up to 38 hours of qualifying professional development toward the hours of pupil instruction. Districts may also count this qualifying professional development toward the day requirement if the professional development exceeds five hours in a single day.
As stated in the January 30, 2020 memo, instructional time is important to student learning. Districts utilizing options such as professional development to reduce instructional time requirements are less likely to receive approval from the department for additional forgiven time. Applications for additional forgiven time will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Requirements for requesting additional forgiven time:
The request for additional forgiven time must exhibit the need for the additional forgiven time, including a strong rationale supporting why these days cannot be rescheduled before the end of the school year. The request must also demonstrate how the district initially prepared for cancelations for the current school year, as well as indicate how they might improve upon their planning process for subsequent school years.
As always, the Department encourages districts to be proactive in planning calendars that meet and exceed the days and hours requirements so that there is ample time built in to assure that students receive the amount of instruction required by law. Eligibility for the additional forgiven time will be based on the unusual and extenuating occurrences reported, and through a review of the district’s preparedness for cancellations.
When to request additional forgiven time:
The request for additional forgiven time should be submitted after the cancellation has occurred and after deliberations attempting to reschedule instructional days. Requests for additional forgiven time must be submitted prior to the last scheduled day of instruction.
>Additional Forgiven Time will not be granted in advance.
>Section 101 of the State School Aid Act does not provide the Department authority to grant additional forgiven time for instances where attendance fell below the requirement. Thus, Additional Forgiven Time will not be granted for days where attendance fell below the 75% attendance requirement.