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Friday, August 22, 2014

Oceanside school concerts canceled
O’side superintendents discuss damage, repairs and recovery efforts

At a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, the Oceanside School District administration detailed the damage the district sustained from Hurricane Sandy as well as the ongoing restoration efforts.

According to Superintendent Dr. Herb Brown, the district plans to make up the days it lost because of the storm by canceling most of spring break. The state mandates that school be in session for 180 days, which, under the modified calendar, it will be.

But with winter still ahead, Brown said, any snow days that need to be used will leave the district with fewer than 180 days of classes, and it will be forced to make up the time in other ways.

“We don’t like to get into religious holidays, and there aren’t too many days during Easter-Passover week that aren’t religious,” he said. “But we would have to look at that. We’d have to look at the end of June, and we’d have to look at adding a certain number of minutes to each school day beginning sometime in the spring.”

Brown also announced that the winter concerts would be rescheduled at some of the district’s schools and canceled at others. “We lost a lot of musical instruments, so there will not be winter concerts at this point at Schools 4, 9E, 9M or 8,” he said. “Hopefully there will be spring concerts.”

Brown said that according to State Education Department Commissioner Dr. John King Jr., waivers for the days districts lost because of the storm would be awarded only after they used all of their available vacation days.

Louis Frontario, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, spoke about the financial cost of the storm and its aftermath, saying that district buildings and grounds suffered millions of dollars in property damage. Insurance will cover $3 million, he said, and the district also applied for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. While that avenue looks promising, Frontario said, he could not estimate how much the district might receive.

Recovery funds might also be available from the State Department of Education, he added.

Once those resources have been tapped, the funds for repairs could come from the school’s “own pockets,” Frontario said. “It depends on the bottom line and ultimately where this all ends up.”

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