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Should the School Year Be Reduced to 170 Days?

No word has been given by the Smithtown Central School District if the state-required 180 days of school would or could be reduced in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

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. 

Jessica November 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Not sure if there is any history, but your insurance may cover "loss of business". If it does, you can see if you can claim the salary and decide to pay them... (That's what I'm trying to do - and I have part-time employees. I would like to pay them if I am able to... it's not their fault...)
scsddad November 14, 2012 at 02:38 PM
robkoz You are right she really does suck.
lawyer and mom November 14, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Robkoz, unlike you, I don't hide behind an alias. And not that I have to justify anything for you, but the AVVO comments are false and untrue. The first is from someone I don't even know and the second is from someone who obtained the results she wanted and then refused to pay her bill. I've been practicing for 24 years and my record is outstanding. By the way, I have also represented clients for free in domestic relations matters and helped countless women and children of all ages. What is YOUR claim to fame?
+irish+ November 14, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The students deserve the full calendar of school days for which all property owners pay for in their real estate taxes. The children need to learn how to adapt their future work schedules around the weather and other adversity; it too is a lesson in their life's education. The obvious solution is to cancel winter recess in Feb., and spring break should be limited to Passover observance, Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The children should not be punished by curtailing their education so certain teachers (the minority) can go on ski trips. After all, it's about the kids, right?
+irish+ November 14, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Yes, it's hard. But you are well paid and get extra money for coaching, club moderating, etc. Professional employees get flat pay no matter how many hours they work. We don't get fully-funded pensions with the option of retiring at 55. If you think the rest of us have it so easy, quit and get a job in the private sector and quit complaining. There are many talented individuals with teaching credentials who would love to take your place. Stop complaining, especially to your students. Bad example.
lawyer and mom November 14, 2012 at 04:53 PM
School breaks should NOT be cancelled. The students and teachers didn't ask for the hurricane and it wasn't exactly a vacation. Sitting at home I'm the dark with no friends, tv, etc. Plus the weather was lousy (obviously). The Christmas break and spring break cannot be cancelled for religious reasons (the first two nights of Passover fall on Monday and Tuesday while Holy Thursday and Good Friday fall at the end of that week, leaving only Wednesday available. As far as February break, Presidents Day is a legal holiday, leaving only Tues. to Fri available for school. The children need a break during the long winter. Besides, many teachers and parents have booked nonrefundable plane tickets in legitimate reliance of the school calendar and these people will go anyway. The better solution is to move patent-teacher conferences to evenings (there are three half-days scheduled for this purpose in December) and hold full days of classes instead as well as eliminate the spring superintendents conference days and end school on June 21 instead of June 20.
Mario November 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Education is not a punishment - it is a honor. Are you for real??
We Heart Long Island November 14, 2012 at 06:18 PM
The 100k would change if the number of days change.
We Heart Long Island November 14, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Many districts brought the teachers back in even though the schools were closed.
+irish+ November 14, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Although the personal attack against you here is unwarranted and the anonymous professional attack cited on that link is suspect, I do take issue with most of your post: ~The travel plans of a select few with non-refundable tickets is a non-issue. That's the risk. If (as you claim) these parents go anyway, they are not putting their children's education first. Parents should factor in contingencies (i.e. illness) and the school should not revolve around their shortsightedness. ~President's Day is not a paid day off for a lot of private-sector employees. Winter recess was a result of the energy crisis of '73-74 which should be eliminated. ~Agree evening parent-teacher conferences should be an option. ~These conferences can be held on Saturdays. (Don't have a cow, teachers. Parents work overtime, you can, too). ~School year can easily be extended until June 30. Big deal, they still get two months off.
We Heart Long Island November 14, 2012 at 06:26 PM
I see you met robkoz. He's a tool that likes to get nasty and pick fights. On the internet only, of course.
Kevin November 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I agree with most of what Irisheyes posted. The personal attacks and other garbage that many post on the Patch, as well as other sites, really turn me off. I do not bother reading any of the political stories on these sites for that reason. If you care about education, then you do the best you can to make the lost instructional days up. That should be the first response, not see if legislation can be passed to give districts a special dispensation from state education law. Our children need more time in school, not less.
works hard for the money November 16, 2012 at 01:36 AM
As an employee of the district, I get paid hourly, I was told that I was going to get paid because it was declared a state of emergency, national disaster, the district retracted that, and told me that we were making up the days during Feb. break. My concern is what if the district decides to keep the Feb. break. I will not get paid for either of the weeks, since my salary is already in this years budget, what happens to the money they are not paying us?
Norm Allen November 16, 2012 at 04:27 PM
So many of you are correct...If we intend to get serious about competing in a global economy...then we need to institute a 200 day school calendar...The days of a school year that serves an agrarian society ended a good 60 years ago...This is not about accomodation it is about education!
Checked it out November 17, 2012 at 01:15 PM
There are provisions for lost work by getting unemployment benefits. Google search Hurricane Sandy unemployment and u will see the requirements.
E Baum November 17, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I have seen many posts in different areas of the patch by robkoz. I wish the posts were written in a different tone. Points can be made with a higher level of civility. It seems that many of us are stressed by our perceived views of injustice and inequality. We all need to consider that without walking in others' shores, we may not understand the entire picture. It just bothers me so much when I read his mean posts that I now tend to skip them.
E Baum November 17, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I have seen many posts in different areas of the patch by robkoz. I wish the posts were written in a different tone. Points can be made with a higher level of civility. It seems that many of us are stressed by our perceived views of injustice and inequality. We all need to consider that without walking in others' shoes, we may not understand the entire picture. It just bothers me so much when I read his mean posts that I now tend to skip them.
JG - St. James November 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
@ Benice you obviously were never a teacher, because if you were you would have been foolish to give up a job that was such a "breeze" for which you were over compensated for as you put it.... Any way personally I have a bachelors degree in accounting and currently work in corpoarate finance but do know many teachers, most of them in elementary actually and yes maybe they get a few more holidays and days off, but by no means is the job easy and you couldn't pay me enough to do it that for sure!! For good teachers, unlike the type of teacher you apparently were, there is no free time in the day and I see teachers take home far more work than I do, not to mention the joy of dealing with the parents of at least 21 little gems of children all of which think their child is the brightest thing on the face of the earth of course....Not to mention the constat bashing of ignorant people such as your self who think teachers make so much money ($100K) which by the way most teachers do not make, is by no means a large salary for a white color educated professional in this day and age on this god forsaken island. Apparently according to snoozeday most Lipa employess make more than the teachers who educate and shape our childrens futures, think about that during your next power outage, or next election time when you are pondering who to vote for you meatball.
Argile November 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM
E Baum, I'd like to see your proof of me being mean to someone who didn't attack me first. Especially since I just read the last 20+ posts I've made. I'm calling your bluff. It's actually quite funny since I was called a bigot and racist without even mentioning any particular religion or race. Try reading this thread and see who attacked whom. It seems people here can dish it out but can't eat what they serve.
Duppy November 19, 2012 at 01:52 PM
What do you feel their workload is worth?
JG - St. James November 19, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I am very tolerant of other people’s opinions, I am just not tolerant of ignorance, sorry. I love people like you who say teachers make too much they don’t work enough etc, that’s nothing more than jealousy talking. I am sorry you couldn’t hack it as a teacher and now your career as administrative professional causes you too much stress…. You should really get some facts on salaries, what a real teachers day consists of, what work they take home with them and the amount of their own money spent on classroom supplies (especially elementary teachers) etc. before you make your half-wit posts. What do you want to do pay teacher $50K? Sure you can do that just imagine the quality, of the teacher you will get then, and the impact on the kids. It just makes me laugh how you could have such a problem with teachers salaries, but you make no mention of administrators….I personally would much rather have 3 teachers making $100K each, than one superintendent making $300K for doing what???
Duppy November 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM
JG - I was agreeing with everything you wrote until I got to your last sentence. Then you did the same thing as Benice. Someone is sounding a little jealous. What should a superintendent make?
JG - St. James November 19, 2012 at 04:23 PM
@Duppy, I see your point, would I like to make $300K a year, you bet!! But jealousy doesn't drive the comment, common sense does. The district is a mess, thats obvious but if people want to make changes you got to start at the top, not the bottom cut the head off the beast, starting with the board of ed next election....
JG - St. James November 19, 2012 at 09:00 PM
It’s not your opinion that makes you ignorant, it’s the fact that you form an opinion based on hearsay and bad information as opposed to facts, that’s what makes you ignorant. Not to mention the fact that you think all accountants do taxes, that’s classic…I am sorry I assumed you were a teacher based on your comment of being formerly employed in the educational workforce, I didn’t realize you were only trying to pretend that you used to be a teacher. Your brilliance continues to shine through as you complain about your taxes and your grand solution for that is to keep teacher salaries the same, but make them work more and send kids to school year round, wow I wonder what that will do for your tax bill meatball??? Look you’ve made your point, you are clearly jealous of teachers salaries and I feel bad for you for that, but you need to stop counting other people’s money and worry about yourself. So you better go run and get your boss his coffee now otherwise you may not get that Christmas bonus……
Stomacheboy November 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM
I Will say firsthand, There is alot of deadweight in public schools. Def. overpaid. And every club, and coach, and R&D, is a complete waste of taxpayer money. You will never see a teacher doing something extra for the kids without going to there union and demanding payment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
E Baum November 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM
ENOUGH! I am no longer going to follow this thread. I am ashamed that the people in town have such little civility. I hope the moderator can delete this entire thing. Perhaps we would all be better served focusing on the season in which we are about to enter and start by being thankful for all that we have. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope that your holiday will be filled with health and joy.
JG - St. James November 20, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Benice, I must admit you have given me some good laughs, but I can see you are a lost cause, so I am writing you off. I honestly do feel sorry for you, your jealousy is eating you up. You need to stop trying to deny educated people the right to make a decent salary. If you can't swing the Smithtown tax bill than maybe you need to consider moving on, like the rest of the empty nesters in Smithtown who have nothing better to do than complain about school taxes, I hear florida is nice this time of year. Happy Thanksgiving!!
Stop complaining November 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
First of all its hard to blame the teachers for their salaries. How many of you in the private sector tell your manager you will work for less money. I compare it to Alex Rodriguez, is it his fault someone offered him $300,000,000? Would you expect anyone to take less money then they are offered? Also, if you want to extend the school year into July or August just imagine how much your taxes will go up to pay for air conditioning for all the classrooms... You can't have kids in school buildings on a 95 degree day without it, those building hold in so much heat. The amount of complaints that would be on this site would be overwhelming that their taxes are going up. Maybe parents should start to spend more time with their children. For all of those that complain about taxes, this has been an issue on Long Island for a very long time why would you still live here if it's that much of an issue.
Sticks60 November 28, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Obviously you have never worked in the private sector. Just think, once tenured you can't be fired, the district will never go out of business, no moving your job off shore and your pension is guaranteed. I wonder how much of reality our students get exposed to each day in the classroom if the teachers never experienced it.
RLWM November 29, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Hello everyone. I have read every comment on this stream and have my opinion but kind of stand offish. But hear it goes anyway. My children will be in school when others may be on vaccation that week. Instead of spending quality time with them and letting them run free. For you who say to these parents that they do not care about thier childs education because they will take them on their yearly vaccation is not true for some maybe. But the ones I know ask for whatever homework that will be given through the break. And yes they give homework or projects during breaks and holiday breaks. I agree they should make up these days at night for teacher/parent conf. We go in the evening to meet the teachers they don't give a day off for that! I don't want to argue with you St. James but you never said if you have children in school, only friends that are teachers. I totally agree that a teacher is well paid for a job well done. And I really commend your teacher friends who teach in El school who buy their supplies etc. but I spent alot of money buying my childrens school supplies (not complaining) but things like dry erasers that my child doesn't use the teacher does, red pens that my child does'nt use again for teacher the list goes on and on. It isn't the same as it was when we were children. The break is good for the kids because the homework is insane 2 hrs a night for a 3rd grader! and I have to correct the work before it goes back to school! what is the teacher bringing home?

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