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Port Washington Board Cancels Part of February Break

Schedule disrupted by storm.

The Port Washington Board of Education voted Tuesday night to cancel part of February break to make up the classroom time lost to Hurricane Sandy.

As a result, Port Washington Public Schools will be open Tuesday, Feb. 19, Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 21. The move enables the district to meet New York State’s 180-day minimum requirement, and have a day to spare should there be the need for an additional school closing due to bad winter weather. It also comes at a time when districts across Long Island cut back on vacation days in order to make up missed instructional time.

In explaining her recommendation prior to the board’s vote, Interim Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney said “instruction is the driver. These are instruction days, and we expect them to be meaningful.”

There was no indication that New York’s State Education Department or legislature would waive that 180-day requirement, she added. If it does grant a waiver, “I would be happy to restore the days,” she said.

But, she noted, “The biggest issue is to make up instruction time sooner rather than later.” 

Still, both Mooney and school board members said they understood that canceling part of the break may cause financial loss and loss of family time for those in the district who had planned time away and cannot get their trips refunded. Those students who miss class would not be penalized, Mooney said, adding that makeup assignments could be worked out between students and teachers.

The district is restricted as to which days it could chose as makeup days, given that certain holidays – among them Veterans Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day – are “off limits,” Mooney said. In addition, the district must meet certain contractual obligations. Presidents Week offers the district the flexibility it needed, and falls well in advance of AP exams so that students could receive critical instruction, she said.

Still, during community comments, resident Andrea Major asked how many teachers might be absent, and therefore leaving the students with substitutes who might show videos in class on those days.

Mooney said she had asked the staff to state by Nov. 30 whether they have nonrefundable tickets. Parents can check with building principals after Nov. 30, she said.

Other considerations included switching to a four-day weekend, rather than two three-day weekends during February.

Ultimately, though, the board approved opening school Feb. 19-21. The vote was 5-0, with William Hohauser and Vernon McDermott not in attendance. 

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Arguendo November 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Right, it never hurts to ask.
Archie Bunker November 30, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Don't believe everything you read on the internet I was told no by three different people
Larry Greenstein December 09, 2012 at 04:25 PM
The 3 day weekend option was decided on based on input from parents and staff. Theses will be real instructional days. When the district says that students will not be penalized it means that the absences will be 'excused' like when a student is ill. They are still responsible for work but can get the assignments in advance and work out arrangements with the teachers. The vast majority of staff will be there. The district is working to insure that there will be no major interruptions. If you are in town your children should not stay home expecting a wasted day. The storm caused us to lose valuable time. It is not a matter of how many days the State requires us to have. it is a matter of educationally preparing our children for the future. When our children are 'assessed' they will be competing against students who did not suffer disruptions. It is up to the district to provide the resources. it is up to the individual families to determine what is in the best interest of their children. The students all have differing needs and abilities. the same answer is never right for everyone.

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