Word is spreading about possible legislation allowing school districts to reduce the school year no more than 10 days due to Hurricane Sandy keeping kids at home. In the meantime, most local school districts still have plans to keep kids in class for the full 180-day school year.
Mount Sinai School district decided to take one day of vacation away from students over Thanksgiving break, opening up for a full day of classes next Wednesday.
“We are certainly in a tough position,” said Superintendent of Schools Enrico Crocetti in an email sent to parents in the district. “Our prime directive is to ensure the best quality education for our students.”
He added “maintaining the minimum of 180 instructional days is of paramount importance.”
In that district the calendar year provided four snow days but Mt. Sinai had already been closed seven days (two of which were conference days.) That left the district one day short, which they will make up with the reduced holiday break next week.
“If we are required to take more inclement weather days they will be coming off of our March break,” Crocetti said in his announcement.
Over at Port Jefferson School District, Superintendent Ken Bossert is meeting with representatives of the educational staff to look at the calendar on Monday to decide how to proceed. If the days have to be made up, he expects they will come from their February break.
Bossert is also anticipating that the New York State Education Department will provide guidance on the 180-day school year waiver.
“Last year, a waiver was granted to those districts affected by [Hurricane] Irene, so there is some precedent,” he said.
The state legislature passed a resolution in 2011 that allowed for exceptions to the 180-day rule of up to 10 days instead of the regularly allowed five from damages caused by extreme weather conditions, like tropical storm Irene in August of last year.
According to the state education department's website, some circumstances may be approved by the New York State Education Department Commissioner if they are “extraordinary,” which include “extraordinarily adverse weather conditions, an impairment of heating facilities, an insufficient water supply, a fuel shortage, a lack of electricity, a natural gas leak, unacceptable levels of chemical substances, or the destruction of a school building.”
Over at Comsewogue School District, Superintendent Joseph Rella said they are also still talking about what they will do.
“We are discussing a number of options but nothing has been decided yet,” he said.
Additional reporting on this story was done by Peter Verry.
Let Patch save you time. Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.