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School Districts Await State Guidance Regarding Make-Up Days

State requires a minimum of 180 school days in a given school year.

There is no word yet on the changes to the school calendar for area school districts, which missed nearly a week of planned school days due to power outages related to "superstorm" Sandy.

Hampton Bays and Westhampton Beach superintendents and East Quogue's principal said their respective districts are awaiting directives from the Governor and State Education Commissioner.

"Once we have that information, our Board of Education will discuss the matter and make a decision," said Mike Radday, superintendent of Westhampton Beach schools. 

Lars Clemensen, superintendent of Hampton Bays schools, said his district will be doing the same thing; however, he advised parents to delay booking spring break vacations.

He said, "Based on current law, we are required to make up the days using future vacation days first. Instructional time is valuable and, if we are required to be in school for some of spring break, it will be important for students to be in attendance at that time."

State education law requires a minimum of 180 school days per school year, though the state education commissioner is authorized to excuse at most five days for extraordinary circumstances if those days could not be made up by using scheduled vacation days as make-up days. According to a memo published on the state education department's website:

The following are circumstances that may be approved by the Commissioner as extraordinary conditions:  extraordinarily adverse weather conditions, an impairment of heating facilities, an insufficient water supply, a fuel shortage, a lack of electricity, a natural gas leak, unacceptable levels of chemical substances, or the destruction of a school building.

According to the state education department, a declaration of a state of emergency by the governor does not automatically mean school districts can hold fewer than 180 school days. School districts must meet the 180-day requirement in order to be eligible for state funding.

In 2011, the state legislature passed a resolution allowing school districts to be considered for an exception to the 180-day rule of up to 10 days instead of five due to extreme weather conditions such as tropical storm Irene in August of last year.

A state education department representative said Friday that a similar bill has been filed in the state legislature for this school year.

"We can't predict whether the Legislature will act to provide relief from the 180 day requirement again this year," said Antonia Valentine of the state education department. "However, a bill has been filed in the Legislature that would allow the Commissioner to excuse up to 10 days instead of 5 days this school year. The Legislature would have to act on that when they are back in session in order for it to become law."

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Shooz November 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM
180 days is not too much to ask of students and teachers... make the days up during the scheduled vacations. While it may be an inconvenience and I understand people who have booked vacations, etc but that is no reason to short-change our students...honestly our kids are already falling behind other countries in education... we need to get our priorities straight and education should not be about vacations (I personally think we have too many vacations in our system) but about the quality of the finished product - an educated, knowledgable young person.

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