SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Thousands of Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) families don’t know if students will be back in the classroom for an extra five days in June. The additional instructional time would be added to the 2022 calendar to make up for lost instructional days and minutes due to an eight-day teacher strike that ended the first week of April.

SCUSD and the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA) are at the bargaining table, again, to find a proposal both sides can agree on. Though, representatives for both SCUSD and SCTA told CBS13 they all agree the instructional time must be made-up to avoid $47 million in penalties.

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Why the charges?

California schools are required to meet a minimum number of instructional days and minutes each year. The California Department of Education (CDE) requires 180 days of school and specifies a minimum number of total instructional minutes, varying by grade level.

By grade level, kindergarten must have 36,000 minutes of instructional time; 1st-3rd grade must have 50,400 minutes; 4th-8th must have 54,000 minutes; 9th-12th must have 64,800 minutes of instructional time. A day that doesn’t meet these requirements is not an instructional day, according to the CDE.

Many school districts pad in extra days with things like teacher in-service days, just in case. SCUSD does not build extra days into the calendar, which means the instructional time lost during the strike must be made-up with additional days.

In the latest update to the recovery of instructional minutes, SCUSD posted one of the latest proposals online. The main points of the proposal, including an additional five days of instruction from June 20-24, include:

  • Extend all remaining minimum days by one hour, including June 16, 2022.
  • Make June 17, 2022, a regular day of instruction.
  • Ensure that we can provide a safe learning environment for students who attend school by allowing no more than 20% of certificated staff to use approved leaves of absence between June 16-24, 2022.

In March, CBS13 Investigative Reporter Julie Watts was the first to ask district leaders about plans to recover lost instructional time. Within 48 hours of the start of what would become an eight-day strike, CBS13 learned the district does not have room for a single missed day.

For instance, an internal audit from 2017 outlines the minimum of number instructional minutes required under the education code and the total minutes negotiated into the SCTA’s contract. There was no room for a single missed day. They padded in about an hour and a half for middle schools and eight minutes of extra instruction time for high schoolers.

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Now, nearly two months later, families are left with questions about what will happen in June.

“At this point, it’s like, just make a decision even if it’s not an ideal decision so people can make plans accordingly,” said Jennifer Carr, a parent of two SCUSD students.

Other parents say they have summer plans paid for and scheduled. The memories, one parent said, were more important than the last days of school that were not originally on the calendar.

“The question mark at the end of the year is not going to affect us because we won’t show up. Unfortunately, the teachers still have to do that,” said Chaundra Bailey, a mother of two SCUSD students.

A SCUSD spokesperson told CBS13 on Tuesday:

“We are hopeful the uncertainty surrounding the school calendar will be resolved by the end of this week at the latest. Our families deserve to know if the calendar is going to be extended or not.”

For seniors, graduations will go forward on the dates that they are currently scheduled. However, attendance on any additional days will be encouraged.

“However, if students have prearranged plans, we ask families to talk to their school site principal and inform them of their situation as soon as possible,” a SCUSD spokesperson wrote in an email to CBS13 when asked about attendance requirements for seniors.

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Funding, like the $47 million in penalties if the minimum instruction days aren’t met, does not include funding from attendance. School funding is based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA), which is calculated through the end of March. Absences that happen after ADA, like those in June, will have “minimal impact on funding,” according to a district spokesperson.