Hauppauge students unexpectedly had more than a week off from school after Hurricane Sandy, but they will pay the time back, according to school officials.
Hauppauge Public Schools were closed for 6 days following the storm, which created widespread power outages including knocking out Forest Brook Elementary School. All 6 days will be made up by the students by eliminating the district's mid-winter recess and reinstating classes on two other vacation days.
School will be in session From Feb. 19 - Feb. 22, 2013, which reduces previously scheduled mid-winter recess down to a three-day weekend for Presidents' Day. Students are also expected to attend classes on March 22, originally a Superintendent's Conference Day, and May 24, cutting Memorial Day Weekend down from a four-day to three-day weekend.
"In a situation like this, where our student had lost six instructional days due to a natural disaster there is no decision that would have made everyone comfortable with the decision. We had people who made plans for certain vacation periods and people with religious obligations," superintendent Patricia Sullivan-Kriss said.
The superintendent said she has made the decision to "put kids in seats" rather than await the result of pending state legislation or use Superintendent Conference Days to make up for the lost days.
In 2011, the state legislature passed a resolution 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.”
A similar piece of legislation has been proposed by state assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, D-Queens, suggesting districts affected by Sandy be allowed to waive 10 days instead of five after Hurricane Sandy. It will go before the state senate in January.
Sullivan-Kriss said she believes even if the pending legislation is passed by state officials, Hauppauge Public Schools would not qualify.
"The legislation by Cathy Nolan... which aims to give relief to areas most affected by Sandy requires district to exhaust every possible vacation day until the end of the year before being granted an exemption from the 180-day requirement," the superintendent said.
The revised school calendar is 180 instructional days plus 2 Superintendent Conference days, while maintaining the March/spring recess.
The superintendent said while the district can use Superintendent Conference Days to count towards the student attendance under New York State Educational Department, she advised against it.
"The bottom line is one way or another, my goal it to put students in the classroom for those days and preserve them for instruction," Sullivan-Kriss said.
The two Superintendent's Conference days held Aug. 30 and Nov. 6 will be counted towards student attendance days if there are two or more snow closings this winter. Under the newly revised calendar for 2012-13, schools will be open on March 25 if there is one snow/emergency closing.
The superintendent said two other benefits to the students making up all six class days are the district's hourly employees will have the opportunity to make up lost hours and salary, while teachers will get the benefit of having a full school year headings into the new APPR evaluations - which are partly based on student performance.
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