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Commack Students to Make Up for Lost Days, Marking Periods Changed

School officials say the district will not meet qualifications for pending legislation that could allow reduction from 180 to 170 school days.


Commack students had more than a week off after Hurricane Sandy, but school officials warned parents the time will be made up one way or another on Tuesday night. 

"We will absolutely have 180 days," said superintendent Donald James. 

The district lost a total of 8 days due to closures after Hurricane Sandy, as many of the school buildings were left without power and downed trees closed down main access roads like Townline Road. 

James said the district is still in the process of figuring out how those days will be made up, as Commack School District would not qualify for pending legislation that would allow schools impacted by the storm to reduce the school year from 180 to 170 days. 

The superintendent said he will be meeting with John King, New York state's commissioner of education, who has the authority to waive up to 5 school days for "extraordinary conditions." New York's Department of Education gives examples of "extraordinary conditions" as 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.

"I will be advocating for that this weekend with him," James said. 

If Commack school officials are unable to strike an agreement with the commissioner, the district will have to look into using its scheduled vacation days to make up for all 8 lost days, instead of 3 days. 

"We need 180 days. Without that, we will lose state aid. That is not something we can allow," the superintendent said. 

He did not give any specific details at Thursday night's Board of Education meeting as to what vacation days might be changing. In response to questions from parents, James said the district cannot make up the class time by holding classes on Saturdays. 

"We understand that people need to adjust their plans, we are aware of that. But we cannot knee jerk and make a decision. These are extraordinary circumstances," James said. 

Commack school officials have the goal of announcing any changes to the school calendar by Monday or Tuesday of next week. 

In the meanwhile, the district has already made significant changes to Commack High School and Commack Middle School's marking periods to allow students time to recovery from Sandy. All graded assessments are temporarily suspended at the high school. 

"We could not tell kids to go home and study, you have a test towards your final grade tomorrow when they have no Internet, no phones and in some cases, no electricity," James said. 

For high school students, the second and third marking periods will be combined. Students will still have the option if scoring well on their final exam to drop their lowest grade, in accordance with the high school's grading policy. 

For Commack Middle School, the second marking period has been extended by one week. The elementary school's grading periods will not be changed. 

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Christine November 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I heard there is a board meeting tonite to discuss this situation? Why don't they use the days off like ...the day after Thanksgiving, Presidents Day and Martin Luther King for starters!
sue November 21, 2012 at 06:26 PM
TheRube43 November 21, 2012 at 07:51 PM
The day after Thanksgiving?? Too late. President's Day and MLK Day are Federal Holidays. Can't open the schools. Just like Veteran's Day.
DeeLouise December 29, 2012 at 08:04 PM
It seems that President's Day is okay for Commack schools to be open.
shuls February 11, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Going out and living life is just as important as going to school.


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