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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sandy Aftermath
February break on the chopping block
District officials mulling schedule change to make up days lost

While many South Shore schools were flooded or damaged and needed to close temporarily in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Valley Stream’s 14 schools escaped relatively unscathed.

Schools were closed for seven days — six due to Sandy and one because of the nor’easter 10 days later — making a considerable dent in the number of instructional days for students. In order to make up for those lost school days, superintendents from each of the four school districts, and members of the Valley Stream Teachers’ Association, are deciding on a course of action.

“February break is being considered, and we’re also coming up with various options to be prepared for a potential snowstorm in January, February or March,” said Dr. Bill Heidenreich, superintendent of the Central High School District, referring to when instructional days could be added. “We’re trying to anticipate future weather events and not have to go through this process in February should there be a January snowstorm.”

Heidenreich said that there is a provision in the districts’ contract with teachers that requires the superintendents to develop the school calendar in consultation with the teachers’ association. Other districts in the area have already announced calendar changes because they do not have this provision, he noted.

Richard Herrmann, president of the teachers’ association, said he had talked with Heidenreich in recent weeks and would be presenting a few proposals to the union’s executive board on Thursday. “Right now we’re just in a state of limbo,” he said. “We’re talking about different alternatives.”

Herrmann said that the executive board could authorize him to make a deal with the superintendents or ask him to submit the proposals to teachers for a vote, which would require more time before a final decision is made.

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