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Port Washington Board Cancels Part of February Break

Schedule disrupted by storm.

The Port Washington Board of Education voted Tuesday night to cancel part of February break to make up the classroom time lost to Hurricane Sandy.

As a result, Port Washington Public Schools will be open Tuesday, Feb. 19, Wednesday, Feb. 20 and Thursday, Feb. 21. The move enables the district to meet New York State’s 180-day minimum requirement, and have a day to spare should there be the need for an additional school closing due to bad winter weather. It also comes at a time when districts across Long Island cut back on vacation days in order to make up missed instructional time.

In explaining her recommendation prior to the board’s vote, Interim Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney said “instruction is the driver. These are instruction days, and we expect them to be meaningful.”

There was no indication that New York’s State Education Department or legislature would waive that 180-day requirement, she added. If it does grant a waiver, “I would be happy to restore the days,” she said.

But, she noted, “The biggest issue is to make up instruction time sooner rather than later.” 

Still, both Mooney and school board members said they understood that canceling part of the break may cause financial loss and loss of family time for those in the district who had planned time away and cannot get their trips refunded. Those students who miss class would not be penalized, Mooney said, adding that makeup assignments could be worked out between students and teachers.

The district is restricted as to which days it could chose as makeup days, given that certain holidays – among them Veterans Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day – are “off limits,” Mooney said. In addition, the district must meet certain contractual obligations. Presidents Week offers the district the flexibility it needed, and falls well in advance of AP exams so that students could receive critical instruction, she said.

Still, during community comments, resident Andrea Major asked how many teachers might be absent, and therefore leaving the students with substitutes who might show videos in class on those days.

Mooney said she had asked the staff to state by Nov. 30 whether they have nonrefundable tickets. Parents can check with building principals after Nov. 30, she said.

Other considerations included switching to a four-day weekend, rather than two three-day weekends during February.

Ultimately, though, the board approved opening school Feb. 19-21. The vote was 5-0, with William Hohauser and Vernon McDermott not in attendance. 

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M November 28, 2012 at 12:18 PM
So bascially the students who do go to class for three days are going to sit there and do nothing. By the board stating that teachers who booked their plans before Nov 30th can take off and students who take off won't be penalized the students that do go are taking one for the team. Come on school board, your better then this, aren't you??
Rosanna Carta November 28, 2012 at 02:56 PM
This is ridiculous! It was a catostrophic disaster.....Not like snow days when the kids are home and playing in the snow! Obama declared this a state of emergency and was out of our hands. Many suffered for days and days without electric. Not our fault Mother Nature put this in our hands. These days should have been waived! When does this sort of thing happen anyway?? It was a very unusual situation for everyone! Makes no sense whatsoever! Watching videos those three days with substitutes is no answer either..."Instruction" is important, however, if videos will be shown, then I will keep my children home, especially if they will not be penalized! Wonder what Dr. Gordon would have decided! Kids need this break in February, I'm sorry...
Rosanna Carta November 28, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Catastrophic, sorry.
bob young November 28, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I always thought the mid-winter break was a waste. As long as it will be a productive real week then its all good. I dont want to send my daughter to school to hang out however
M November 28, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Wish we had Dr. Gordon around to make the right call. I do not want my kid sitting in class doing nothing for 3 days will others are on vacation.
SD November 28, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Overall the Board appears to have done the right thing, since there were going to be conflicts with some families' plans regardless, and penalizing students who don't go on the makeup days would be unfair considering that other students would be able to keep their vacation plans for the unaffected breaks without penalty. I would happily send my kids those three days if we didn't have vacation plans that are hard to change. Since we do, we're going on vacation. Since we don't have any plans for Dec. 26-28 or March 25-29, it would have been better for my kids to make up the two days one of those weeks, but of course then other families would have the same issue we have with Feb. It just wouldn't have been right to say that being able to go away in Dec. or around Easter/Passover is somehow more important than being able to go away during any other scheduled recess, so part of Feb. break would be cancelled instead and students penalized for not showing up then.
Archie Bunker November 29, 2012 at 10:49 AM
I will be a "great learning experience" to send your kids to school those days so they can watch movies because most of the teachers will be on vacation as well
Arguendo November 29, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Granting waivers to truant teachers and students was a mistake.
Kim Teeman November 29, 2012 at 01:12 PM
All valid points. As for my self I'd rather my kids be in school watching movies then home watching movies, raiding the frig, and calling me endlessly at work that they're bored.
fred November 29, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Teachers are professionals. if school is open then they should be there regardless of any plans!!!!
Arguendo November 29, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Exactly right. "Things change" is a fact of life.
Rosanna Carta November 29, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I totally agree! I wish we still had Dr. Gordon.Exactly, I do not my kids sitting in class doing nothing for 3 days while others are on vacation! I love when my kids are home! So when it's time for them to be off, I look very forward to it. I don't just want to send my kids to school those three days to get them out of my hair!!
Archie Bunker November 29, 2012 at 03:34 PM
In the day of "non-refundable" airline tickets, who is going to reimburse me the penalty for cancelling my vacation? Make no mistake, teachers as well as students will be out those days Good luck finding a substitute as just about every district has cancelled vacation for that week and they will be in high demand
Port North Resident November 29, 2012 at 03:46 PM
If we only need to make up 3 days why not extend the school year by three days so as not to disrupt already made plans. If we are looking to recapture classroom time I believe this would be the easiest way of accomplishing the goal, to have classrooms half empty staffed with subs for a week seems like a real waste.
Cheryl November 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Can someone provide a brief fact-based account of why the board opted for the two three-day weekend option over the one four-day weekend option? I was not able to attend the meeting but I am interested in hearing more about how the board came to their final decision. Thank you.
Arguendo November 29, 2012 at 09:39 PM
That's a risk you take. You would eat the cost of non-refundability for any number of changes and other reasons airlines, cruise lines, resorts won't accept. On the other hand, some will, especially under the circumstances. Why not ask?
Archie Bunker November 30, 2012 at 02:52 PM
"All refund requests are subject to the rules of the ticketed fare, and fees or penalties may apply to your refund. Your itinerary will be cancelled at the time the refund is processed." Having school in session is not exempted from any penalties I am not eating the cost to send my kids to school for three days of watching movies
Stacey Peltz November 30, 2012 at 02:59 PM
It looks like airlines, etc. are refunding or crediting people for February plans. It never hurts to ask.
Arguendo November 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Did you ask? Or just cut and paste? Per "Stacey Peltz 9:59 am on Friday, November 30, 2012 It looks like airlines, etc. are refunding or crediting people for February plans. It never hurts to ask."
Arguendo November 30, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Right, it never hurts to ask.
Archie Bunker November 30, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Don't believe everything you read on the internet I was told no by three different people
Larry Greenstein December 09, 2012 at 04:25 PM
The 3 day weekend option was decided on based on input from parents and staff. Theses will be real instructional days. When the district says that students will not be penalized it means that the absences will be 'excused' like when a student is ill. They are still responsible for work but can get the assignments in advance and work out arrangements with the teachers. The vast majority of staff will be there. The district is working to insure that there will be no major interruptions. If you are in town your children should not stay home expecting a wasted day. The storm caused us to lose valuable time. It is not a matter of how many days the State requires us to have. it is a matter of educationally preparing our children for the future. When our children are 'assessed' they will be competing against students who did not suffer disruptions. It is up to the district to provide the resources. it is up to the individual families to determine what is in the best interest of their children. The students all have differing needs and abilities. the same answer is never right for everyone.

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