ALTERATION AND/OR CURTAILMENT OF PROGRAMS THAT RESULT IN A FURLOUGH
An alteration of a school program is a change in the way in which a program is implemented and a curtailment is a reduction, up to and including elimination, of a program.
Alteration or curtailment of a program that DOES NOT result in the furlough of professional staff does not require the approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) unless it affects a Special Education or Career and Technical Education program. The Bureau of Special Education and/or the Bureau of Career and Technical Education should be consulted in such cases.
24 P.S. § 11-1124 of the School Code addresses the furloughing of professional staff.
- PDE is not involved with the approval of the furloughing of staff.
- Furlough decisions are exclusively made by local school entities.
- PDE is involved to the extent certain school district actions require PDE approval (i.e., alterations or curtailments of programs)
24 P.S. § 11-1124: Four allowable reasons to furlough professional staff
- Substantial decrease in school district enrollment
- Substantial decline in class or course enrollment or to conform with standards of organization
- Consolidation of schools
- New school district created
24 P.S. § 11-1124(1): Substantial Decrease in District Enrollment
PDE approval is not needed for alterations or curtailments made under this section.
The courts have not set a clear standard to define “substantial decline,” but there are many cases that provide guidance. Consult with the district’s solicitor.
24 P.S. § 11-1124(2)
Substantial Decline in Course or Class
PDE approval is required.
The expired BEC on alteration and/or curtailment has been removed from the website and does not provide guidance on this point. PDE will consider a decline in course or class enrollment on a case-by-case basis.
Pre- and post-class size and/or teacher-to-student ratios should be included as part of the plan in support of such requests.
Conform to Standards of Organization
PDE approval is required.
The superintendent must submit a plan that describes and explains the changes to be made. The plan should explain why the alterations or curtailments proposed by the district are being made. The plan must conform to the Chapter 4 requirements for planned courses. The district is responsible to ensure that the new program will be in compliance with certification requirements. PDE may ask for additional information.
Applying for approval under Section 11-1124(2)
The following information must be supplied to PDE:
- Letter from Superintendent requesting approval to furlough under Section 11-1124(2)
- Board resolution or board minutes approving the plan and request to suspend/furlough professional staff
- Details of the plan may be in either the superintendent’s letter or in the board resolution
- PDE will review the request and give written approval, request additional information or reject the plan
- Once sufficient information is received, approval can be given in 5-10 work days
- The district is not required to implement an approved plan
24 P.S. § 11-1124(3) Consolidation of Schools
PDE approval is not needed for these furloughs.
Furloughs can be made due to consolidation of schools within a district or merger of districts.
24 P.S. § 11-1124(4) Establishment of a New School District
Furloughs due to consolidation of districts and the creation of a new district do not need PDE approval.
24 P.S. § 11-1124 Causes for suspension
Any board of school directors may suspend the necessary number of professional employes, for any of the causes hereinafter enumerated:
(1) Substantial decrease in pupil enrollment in the school district;
(2) Curtailment or alteration of the educational program on recommendation of the superintendent, concurred in by the board of school directors, approved by the Department of Public Instruction, as a result of substantial decline in class or course enrollments or to conform with standards of organization or educational activities required by law or recommended by the Department of Public Instruction;
(3) Consolidation of schools, whether within a single district, through a merger of districts, or as a result of joint board agreements, when such consolidation makes it unnecessary to retain the full staff of professional employes.
(4) When new school districts are established as the result of reorganization of school districts pursuant to Article II., subdivision (i) of this act, and when such reorganization makes it unnecessary to retain the full staff of professional employes.