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Saturday, September 20, 2014
Sandy cuts into Rockville Centre school vacation
Herald File Photo

The Rockville Centre Board of Education voted on Nov. 20 to convert four days of the district’s February vacation into school days to make up for the days missed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter.

In order to meet New York State Department of Education attendance requirements — and to provide a single-day buffer in case of snow-related closures in the coming months — the board decided to remove the scheduled vacation days from Tuesday, Feb. 19, through Friday, Feb. 22.

According to Superintendent Dr. William Johnson, before a total of seven school days were lost to the two storms, the 2012-13 district calendar was composed of 180 school days and four superintendent conference days. The state requires a minimum of 176 days in session and four conference days, Johnson explained. The loss of seven school days left only 173, and the board needed to add at least three days.

“Three makes us whole in terms of the state, but it doesn’t get us to the point of enabling us to just call a day off later on and not have to find it someplace else,” Johnson said. “Then there’s the whole issue of instruction. We lost seven instructional days. So that makes it somewhat problematic.”

He suggested that because of the February vacation’s proximity to the break in December, and the religious holidays during a weeklong break in March, the board focused on February as a time to reclaim instructional days. He added that taking the days from the February break would give the district some leeway in case of school closures from snowstorms between the end of February and the end of March.

All five trustees agreed that February was the best month in which to convert vacation days into school days, but they were split on how many days to take. Trustees John O’Shea and Gregg Spaulding argued that, for the sake of faculty, staff and students who had long-planned vacations in February, only three days should be taken from the end of the break. They also suggested adding half-day instruction to Regents Week, purely for instructional purposes, since the state does not accept half days as restoration of school days.

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