After losing six days of classes from the one-two punch of Hurricane Sandy and a harsh nor'easter, Massapequa Superintendent Charles Sulc announced at Thursday's Board of Education meeting that the district would be effectively canceling their February break to make up for it.
While the district will still be closed on February 18, which is Presidents Day, the rest of the week - February 19 through February 22 – they will be open for business as usual. In addition, a snow emergency day will also be used on May 24 to help restore the balance of the missed classes, Sulc said.
“We’re pretty fortunate, because in most years we’ll get one snow day, or no snow days,” he said. “This year, because of Sandy, we’re in a whole different set of circumstances.”
While canceling winter break would potentially eat into travel and vacation plans already made by both students’ families and district staff members, Sulc said officials took many factors into consideration, including the potential loss of state funding.
“According to New York State, 180 days is the minimum number of days that kids have to attend school, and if you’re going to relax that in any way, you must exhaust the possibility of any and all vacation days that are available to you, or you risk the loss of state aid on a per-day basis,” he said. “Most Boards of Education backed off of using the December break, so we looked at the next available break, which was February."
Sulc explained why it was important to make up for the lost classes in February rather than later.
"If you don’t go at the February break in terms of making up time, and you put all your cards on April assuming that we’re not going to have a bad winter...however, according to many sources, we're supposed to be in for a harsh winter," he said. "If you wait, and end up having additional closures, you do not have enough days in the April break to make up for the time lost, you lose that same state aid. There is no relief on that whatsoever.”
According to Sulc, currently 36 Nassau County school districts, including Massapequa, are using their February breaks to replace the instructional time lost to Sandy and the nor'easter last month. In addition, BOCES will be following suit as well.