Clarkstown Schools closed for six days in October and November due to Hurricane Sandy. Superintendent J. Thomas Morton told the school board on Wednesday he was still waiting for direction from the state on how the missed days should be handled. Since he had not received any information, Dr. Morton recommended the board move forward with using the scheduled Superintendent’s Conference Days - February 4 and March 15, 2013 - as Sandy “Makeup” days.
Board President Joe Malgieri said the district must first discuss the proposal with its eight unions and get their agreement before taking any action and he asked the superintendent to start working with them. Dr. Morton recommended using the Superintendent’s Conference Days instead of taking time from the two Winter and Spring Recess weeks of February 18 to 22 and March 25 to 29. He did not offer a specific suggestion of make-up dates for the other four days that were missed.
Currently the district has four snow days built in the calendar for the 2012-2013 school year. If school does not have close for inclement weather, he said, then the issue of the four remaining Sandy make-up days would be resolved.
“If there are additional snow days you will have to make decisions,” Dr. Morton told the board members.
He said if it is necessary to have snow days, the district could have a delayed opening instead of closing completely for the day. Dr. Morton said even if the schools opened three hours later than usual, the district would still be credited for a full day.
Malgieri thought the suggestion for the two makeup days was viable.
“This really would be a good start to try to fix the problem,” he said.
Board member Diane Hoeneveld agreed the vacation weeks should remain intact if possible. She advised against planning to use any of the February Winter Recess days for make-up because of the risk they could turn out to be snow days. Malgieri said another reason for not switching the recess days to regular school days was that people have plans and many students may not show up and possibly teachers also. He said if a class is only half filled, the teachers would not introduce any new material.
Allison Jaynes of New City spoke about the length of time that had passed between the hurricane and the board meeting with little information being provided to parents about the status of make-up days. She noted other school districts decided what to do about the missed days and that bothered Clarkstown parents.
“People are anxious for a variety of reasons,” she said.
Dr. Morton said the board will begin working on resolving the issue.
“The plan is to come forward with a step by step procedure that is going to happen (and) let everybody know what that is,” he said.
Strawtown Elementary School parent Irene Tagaris said some parents delayed making plans for the vacation weeks because they were waiting for a district decision.
“It’s frustrating for us parents,” she said.
Tagaris thought the days should be made up even if it meant cutting the recess weeks short because the students missed valuable learning time.
“Just make up the days,” she said. “The kids need to make those days up.”