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Merrick BOE Shortens February Break

Editor's Note: This article was written and submitted by Chris Boyle.

With Hurricane Sandy taking a chunk out of calendars of schools across Long Island last month, districts left and right have since been feverishly working out how to make up for the lost time.

At this week’s meeting of the Merrick Board of Education, Superintendent Dominick Palma addressed the instructional time lost for students due to the devastating superstorm, and how much of it the district was obligated to make up for.

“New York State law requires us to have 180 days of school in session,” Palma said. “Those 180 days can include four conference days where students are not actually in school. When we had the storm, we lost six days of school, but because the month had more days in it, we only had to make up four.”

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Palma announced that the district had decided upon a tentative plan on how to make up for the lost classroom time for students, including cutting into the district’s February break.

“The suggestion is to open school on Wednesday, Feb. 20, Thursday, Feb. 21 and Friday, Feb. 22 as instructional days for students,” Palma said. “In addition, March 22, which was originally scheduled to be a parent-teacher conference day, will be converted into a full day, where half of the day will be an instructional day for students, and the other half will be conferences. That will bring us back up to the required 180 days.”

Palma said that other combinations of days were looked at, but that the Board found the announced plan to be the most effective both in light of certain calendar limitations in place and in terms of providing educational value to kids.

“We’re not allowed to extend classes beyond the last day of school,” he added. “In addition, we cannot use Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Saturdays or Sundays. We could use some of the religious holidays that come up at the end of March, but I don’t think that’s really practical, nor are they instructionally sound. There really won’t be much going on if we just stick in a day here or there. Our current plan is probably the best of the few options available to us.”

The possibility of a harsh winter was also voiced by Palma, who said that, if needed, additional make-up days will be scheduled as needed if more school time was lost due to potential upcoming storms.

What do you think of the district's plan to make up school days? Tell us in the comments below.

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