New Rochelle Schools May Extend School Year Until June 26th Due to Hurricane Sandy

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In a plan currently under consideration by the New Rochelle Board of Education, teachers and staff will make up days lost due to Hurricane Sandy by reporting to work on June 24, 25 and 26 for Conference Days and professional development activities.

New Rochelle schools were closed for five days this fall due to Hurricane Sandy. Under New York State law, the school district must make up those five days in order to meet the state education mandate that "school must be in session for all students for not less than 180 days". Under the district's collective bargaining agreement with F.U.S.E., members are entitled to three one-week recess breaks in the each school year.

As this is a state law the State Education Department may not waive the requirement without special legislation. Under the law, all days on which scheduled session is cancelled would have to be made up using upcoming scheduled vacation days. If the district still does not reach 180 days, the State Education Department can excuse up to 5 days due to extraordinary conditions.

An article in the F.U.S.E. newsletter published this week explained:

The Commissioner of Education is authorized to excuse up to five days for extraordinary circumstances he may only do so if those lost days of session could not have been made up by using, for the secondary grades, all scheduled vacation days which occur prior to the first scheduled Regents examination day in June, and, for the elementary grades. All scheduled vacation days which occur prior to the last scheduled Regents examination day in June.

The plan under consideration would allow the district to restore the majority of instructional days lost to the hurricane and meet the 180 day mandate. Students lost five instructional days due to the storm. One was reclaimed by holding regularly scheduled classes on November 6, a date that had been set aside for a Superintendent's Conference Day. Classes will be held on the two weather make-up days scheduled around Memorial Day weekend -- Friday, May 24. and Tuesday May 28. So, under this plan, students will get 3 of the 5 lost instructional days.

In the event of conflict for F.U.S.E. members, they will be allowed to use their "personal days" in lieu of attending on June 24, 25 and 26.

The plan is still in the discussion phase and would need to be approved by the New Rochelle Board of Education.

The plan does not address what happens if there are snow days over the winter.

"It is hoped by districts throughout the downstate area," said F.U.S.E. President Marty Daly, "that a harsh winter would be the catalyst that would compel the Legislature to enact a law waiving the 180 day requirement for this school year."

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