With word spreading of possible legislation allowing school districts to reduce the school year no more than 10 days due to Hurricane Sandy keeping kids at home, the Smithtown Central School District still plans to have kids in class for the full 180 day school year.
If the legislation to approve a shortened school year would be passed, Superintendent Anthony Annunziatio said the district would have to discuss having a shortened school year from an instructional standpoint. Since this legislation has not yet been passed, Annunziatio said it would be tough to answer questions based on a hypothetical situation.
“We have no choice at this point. The other question is how many days are we going to lose with snow days?” he said.
While school was closed for a total of eight days, the district only has to make up three. Of the eight days, two were designated as superintendent’s conference days where there was no school for students, and the district also has three built-in snow days.
Annunziato said the district would look to the February vacation to make these days up, and if the winter were rough and needed to use its snow days then the district would make the three days up in March.
The state legislature passed a resolution in 2011 that allowed for exceptions to the 180-day rule of up to 10 days instead of the regularly allowed five from damages caused by extreme weather conditions, like tropical storm Irene in August of last year.
According to the state education department's website, some circumstances may be approved by the New York State Education Department Commissioner if they are “extraordinary,” which include “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.”
Damage to the buildings from Sandy was minimal, and according to Annunziato, food lost to spoilage. While some food did spoil it was kept to a minimum as the district provided generators to the kitchens in the district.
Communication was also hindered between the district and parents, with the district website crashing and phones not operating at times. Annunziato said they are looking to add text messaging to the robo-calls the district sends out in emergency situations.