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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sandy cuts into district’s vacation days
Long Beach schools make up for lost instruction
By Alexandra Spychalsky
Courtesy Syntax
School officials announced that they would use a number of vacation days to offset lost instruction days.

The Board of Education voted unanimously at its Nov. 27 meeting to revise the school district’s 2012-13 school calendar and use a number of vacation days to offset the days missed during Hurricane Sandy.

Classes will now be held over the Feb. 19-22 winter recess, while spring recess has been cut from six days to four. March 25 and April 1, originally the first and last days of spring vacation, will be converted school days. The holiday recess, however, scheduled for the end of this month remains unchanged.

The district cancelled nine days of classes as a result of the storm. The changes made to the calendar are meant to recoup those days to meet state requirements, Schools Superintendent David Weiss said at the meeting.

“We’ve been dealt a bad hand,” said Weiss. “It’s not a good choice, but it meets our legal obligation.”

Long Beach is not alone in its decision — as of Nov. 25, 66 of Long Island’s 123 school districts cancelled part or all midwinter recesses.

Board members said at the meeting that using vacation time to make up for lost instruction was the best option, though some trustees expressed concern that some parents and teachers may be hesitant to give up those vacation days.

“They have to be seen as real days of learning, not reluctant days of learning,” said Trustee Patrick Gallagher.

The New York State Education Department requires schools to be in session at least 180 days in a school year. School officials said that they only had to replace seven of the nine days lost to the storm because they originally planned for 182 days.

To get the required 180 days, the district utilized four days of winter recess (Feb. 19-22), two designated snow days (March 25 and April 1) and added one conference day (Nov. 9). They have also marked March 27 and 28, currently spring recess days, as the new possible snow make-up days.

Weiss said he chose to use the winter recess days to avoid infringing on religious holidays. At the board meeting, one resident asked why the district didn’t choose to add on extra days at the close of the school year in June, rather than cut vacation days.

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