BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – With Hurricane Sandy knocking out power to a majority of the area and forcing the Briarcliff School District to close for five days, district officials have little leeway to get in 180 days before the end of the school year.
In order to meet the annual requirement, the Briarcliff School District opted to postpone parent-teacher conference days, which would have closed the schools during the day, and rescheduled the conferences to the evenings of Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 10.
New York State Education Commissioner John King can excuse up to five of the required 180 school days for "extraordinary circumstances," according to the department, but King has not indicated any days would be excused thus far.
Briarcliff Superintendent of Schools Neal Miller said the district lost five full days, but had previously scheduled 186 school days before the storm.
“After the storm that we had - and the school days that we did not have - we had to really look at our calendar to see what that would mean to everyone,” Miller said Tuesday night during the Board of Education’s work session. “We’ve lost five days. If we have another emergency closing, we’ll be at 180. If we have a second, we would have to make that up at a later date.”
Miller said that if two more school days had to be canceled this year, students would most likely need to make up the days by taking a shorter break in March. But Miller reminded the community that staff members also lost time.
“For our staff, they also have a requirement of 186 days, and with our resolution tonight, the question will be how we can help make those days up,” Miller said Tuesday. The proposed resolution would mean a reduction from the regular work year by three days, according to district documents.
“This storm was so devastating to all of us; it was no doubt a difficult time,” Miller said, thanking members of the Briarcliff Manor community for their work when much of the village was without power during Hurricane Sandy. “It was a tremendous effort on everybody’s part and I want to take this time to thank everyone for the assistance in getting us through this.”
Board President Sal Maglietta said previously that he hoped the commissioner would revise the policy in the event that future school days are canceled due to unforeseen weather.
“I’m hopeful the Legislature will look into leaving that 180-day requirement, given what is hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime storm,” Maglietta said earlier in November. “It has been quite devastating on the schools.”