Students in the Kings Park School District will be in school during most of the February break to make up days lost due to Hurricane Sandy.
The Kings Park Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to begin using days with the February break instead of the pre-determined first two days of March break, which was decided upon last year when the district and board agreed on the upcoming school year’s calendar.
As of last week, make up days were scheduled to be March 25 and 26, May 24 and three conference days. The district lost a total of six days due to Hurricane Sandy.
Make up days will now be May 24, Feb. 19, 20, 21, 22 and Nov. 7. If additional days are lost to snow the board will begin to use the March break starting with March 25. According to a statement on the district's website, if only one additional emergency make-up day is needed, the board decided that a conference day will be used for that make-up day and spring break will be left in tact. That decision, the district said, cannot be made until late March.
“Obviously the situation is less than ideal,” said board member Tom Locascio. “No matter what we do there will be some that think it is less than ideal.”
In a presentation on Tuesday evening, the board looked at several options to make up the lost time, including the original option to start with the March break, however, if school were to close after the February vacation was over, the school would have only the March break to work with. If the school completes less than 180 days of school, they will lose state aid granted by the government.
“If we lose additional days, we can lose state aid. That is a genuine concern,” said district superintendent, Susan Agruso. “I’m concerned about this winter.”
The March break includes many religious days of importance including Passover, Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Members of the board who were part of arranging the 2012-2013 school calendar said that choosing to start with days in the March break as make up days was a mistake and would take that into consideration when make the next school year calendar.
“I think we need to preserve the religious days,” said Locascio.
Suggestions were made by members of the audience to perhaps take a day or two from each vacation, beginning with the December break. In the end, the board thought that taking a consecutive amount of days would be better instructionally for the students, rather than to send them in for one or two days on each break.
"It's not optimal, but it is probably the way to go," said board member Charlie Leo. "I can't imagine that Dec. 27 and 28 would be well attended days."
Jim Pappas, president of the Kings Park Classroom Teachers Association advocated for sticking with the original decision to use days in March as make-up days.
"It is already in place," said Pappas. "Parents and teachers have made changes and now we are switching it back again, why?"
Resident Mitch Holsburg, who was supposed to go away during the February break, said he thought it was a fair decision.
"We will cancel and take the penalty," he said. "I think it is a fair compromise. If you want your kid in class, they will be in class."
Steve Neuwirth thought it was a good idea to use days in February, rather than wait.
"Left as it is, we run the risk of getting stuck without any make up days and we can lose state aid," he said.
The new calendar will give 179 instructional days for students with four conference days, totaling 183 days of school.
“We want our kids in school,” said Agruso. “That is what we believe in… SAT’s aren’t getting any easier, there is no clause for days lost to Hurricane Sandy.”Days Closed Make Up Days Oct. 29 May 24 Oct. 30 Feb. 19 Oct. 31 Feb. 20 Nov. 1 Feb. 21 Nov. 2 Feb. 22 Nov. 7 Nov. 7 (conference day)
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday, sign up for our free newsletter.