By: Brittany Flaherty Theis

Section 10-19 of the School Code requires school board to 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 ensure 176 days of actual pupil attendance. Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 28, now Public Act 101-0012, into law on June 7, 2019. Public Act 101-0012 (the “Act”) has many statewide implications for public school calendars required by Section 10-19. The Act becomes effective July 1, 2019.

Specifically, the Act reinstates the five-hour school day requirement. This requirement provides that a school day must consist of a minimum of five hours of instructional time. There are exceptions to this requirement for students:

  1. enrolled in dual credit courses in which the student receives both high school and college credit;
  2. participating in a supervised career development program;
  3. participating in a youth apprenticeship; and
  4. participating in a blended learning program.

The Act also allows school districts to use two of the 176 instructional days for parent-teacher conferences.

This amendment, reinstating the five-hour requirement, comes a relatively short time after school districts were given greater flexibility in determining what constitutes a school day. (That flexibility was granted in conjunction with changes in the Evidence-Based Funding formula.) Over the last several months, advocacy groups, State legislators, and administrators alike debated between clock-hour and competency-based requirements. Ultimately, this legislation reinstates the five-hour requirement. The legislation was adopted in time for school boards throughout the state to revisit their public school calendar in order to submit them to the State Board of Education prior to the first day of the school year.

The Act also authorizes the expansion of e-learning programs. E-learning programs allow school districts to utilize e-learning days in lieu of emergency days. School districts wishing to implement an e-learning program must do so by board resolution after holding a public hearing. All e-learning programs must be research-based; provide at least 5 clock hours of instruction or school work; provide non-electronic materials to students or teachers who do not have access to the required technology; and provide effective notice to students and parents or guardians of the use of particular days for e-learning, among other requirements in Section 10-20.56 of the School Code. E-learning programs must be verified by the regional office of education or intermediate service center for the school district.

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Please contact Senior Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis if you have questions regarding Public Act 101-0012.