The first day of winter is more than a month away, but West Islip School District officials are likely hoping for a season with little snowfall.
At Thursday night’s Board of Education meeting at the high school, Superintendent Richard Simon said that the six school days lost to Hurricane Sandy will not require the school district to augment its calendar.
“We are at the point now that if we have no snow days, we will just hit the minimum 180 days required by New York State,” he said.
Should winter weather force administrators to shut schools in the months ahead, Simon said makeup days would be taken from spring break, which runs from March 25 to March 29 and leads into Easter. Thursday, March 28, and Friday, March 29, are Holy Thursday and Good Friday respectively.
Discussion over whether State legislators will waive the 180-day requirement for school districts remains just that. Simon said during a recent superintendent conference with State Sen. John Flanagan, R-East Northport, chairman of the senate’s Education Committee, the senator said the issue pertaining to school days will likely not be discussed until the spring.
Simon also said that as a result of Sandy, 15 school district staff members either lost their homes entirely or had extraordinary damage to personal property. He did not indentify those staffers, but did say those most impacted live along shorefront communities including Massapequa and Amityville.
During a Lionheart meeting on Wednesday, officials said more than 30 families of students suffered significant damage to homes and personal property. That organization is now working to fundraise to help local families recover from Sandy.
While Sandy has played havoc with the current school year calendar, New York’s scheduling of Regents examinations in the 2013-14 school year is providing a different set of challenges for school administrators.
Simon presented the BOE with five school calendar options to review for the next school year.
At issue is that the 13-14 school year closes on Friday, June 20, cutting an entire week out of June that would normally provide school administrators with greater flexibility when developing school calendars.
That issue, combined with when the Jewish holiday fall in September and Christmas Day and New Years Day falling on Wednesdays is leaving school officials with a tight window to reach the 180 days required by the state.
Among the options now being weighed for the 13-14 school year by board of education trustees is reducing the number of superintendent conference days, trimming days off during spring break and possibility starting the school year the final week of August.
A final decision is expected in the coming weeks.
The budget formation process will soon begin and Simon said challenges persist and the district works within the confines of the State’s tax levy cap.
“We are facing a rise in expenses that are out of our control,” he explained. “Our retirement costs are rising six percent higher than we were originally told.”
The superintendent said the school district’s Budget Advisory Committee would reconvene on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. at Udall Road Middle School. The meeting is open to the public. Those interested in participating should visit the school district’s website where an application will be posted.