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Monday, December 22, 2014

Hewlett-Woodmere School District eliminates its winter break
Christine Daly/Herald
The Hewlett-Woodmere School District has eliminated its winter break and made other changes to make up for the school days lost because of Hurricane Sandy.

To gain back four days of instruction from the eight lost due to schools being closed after Hurricane Sandy, the Hewlett-Woodmere School District announced at their Nov. 20 Board of Education meeting that the February winter break will be eliminated.

Tuesday, Feb. 19 to Friday, Feb. 22 will be regular days of instruction for students at Franklin Early Childhood Center, Ogden Elementary, Hewlett Elementary, Woodmere Middle School and George W. Hewlett High School. The district will be closed for President’s Day on Feb. 18.

Board President Stephanie Gould said the New York State Commissioner of Education, Dr. John B. King, Jr., could waive the required days of instruction but the district has not heard anything. “The commissioner could relieve us of that burden but they have not done so,” she said. “When bad weather hit upstate New York last year, the [state education department] didn’t do anything until the late spring so we had to make a decision about those four days.”

Cheryl May, a board member and parent of three children in the district, is frustrated at the lack of direction from the state education department. “We have to educate these kids; that’s the bottom line,” she said. “I’m so disappointed because I would have thought that they would have come down a week or two after the storm and said they were waiving those days. I can’t believe they haven’t done that already.”

The district also decided to eliminate midterms for high school students from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25. “Those days were not used for instruction, they were for students to come in and take their exams but now the exams will be given during school,” May said. “They will still have midterms but they’ll be more spaced out.”

Parent/teacher conferences that were originally scheduled during the day on Dec. 7 for elementary students will be held on Dec. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Franklin Early Childhood Center, Ogden Elementary and Hewlett Elementary, according to Gould, so more instruction time is not taken away from the students.

Gould said the Board of Education made the best decision possible to ensure that students in the district make up for lost time. “You try and coordinate things so everything goes smoothly but with the possibility of additional snow days, you just don’t know,” she said. “We’d prefer not to do this but unfortunately we had this storm and we have to make sure there are enough days of instruction.”

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