Smithtown students rejoiced when Hurricane Sandy closed schools for a day or two, but will they feel the same if school officials look to make up lost time?
The Smithtown Central School District was closed for a week in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's destruction, causing downed trees and massive power outages throughout the Town of Smithtown.
While schools were closed for an extended period of time, there has been no word from the district as of Tuesday afternoon if and how they will hit the state-required 180 days of school.
According to the Commack School District website, there is legislation pending that hints that there could be a possible shortened school year:
[T]here is pending legislation that would lower the requirement to 170 days for districts in need. Once we are made aware of the dispensation of said legislation, we will be better able to address calendar concerns.
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.
Do you think the school year should be shortened from 180 days to 170 days? Or should students make up the days by losing time from scheduled vacations? Tell us in the comments below.