Dates set to return students to their original schools.
Story by Steve Fiorentine.
The destruction of Hurricane Sandy forced the closure of Long Beach Public Schools for two weeks, leaving the remainder of the instructional day calendar in question until Tuesday night.
That’s when the Board of Education amended the school calendar to make up for some of the lost time by taking four days off of February vacation and utilizing pre-established snow days and alternate snow days.
“We have to choose between bad choices,” said superintendent David Weiss during Tuesday’s meeting at Lindell School. “This is not a good choice but it meets our legal obligation to have 180 school days.”
Under the altered calendar, schools will be in session from Feb. 19-22, days originally planned as part of February break, and students will still receive a three-day weekend by getting President’s Day off on Feb 18.
The board also decided to utilize the possible snow make-up days on March 25 and April 1, removing two days from spring recess. The break now starts on Passover and runs from March 26-29. In the event of snow, the Wednesday and Thursday of spring break would be identified as snow days.
“They have to be seen as real days of learning,” board trustee Patrick Gallagher said. “They can’t be seen as reluctant days of learning. I don’t think they are bad choices. I think they are good choices.”
“Adding these days back, in six days particular, are going to allow the teachers to have real time to make up for the lost time that they had and they should be seen in the most positive way,” Gallagher added.
New York State law requires that school be in session for 180 days. Of those days, 176 of them must be student-attended days and four can be used as conference days.
The alterations to the schedule allow the district to meet the state minimum with 177 instructional days and three conference days. Originally, the district planned for 178 instructional days and two conference days with two snow days built in.
The process of restoration is also underway for the district, as officials have started to move students around based on each school’s availability. Lindell School, East School and Long Beach High School were the only schools that were opened after the storm, and students from all schools are attending classes at these buildings.
Starting Dec. 3, sixth and seventh graders who were transferred to the high school will return to the Lido complex. Parts of that building remain inaccessible, but the move will help alleviate overcrowding in the high school.
The eighth graders will then gain access to the new high school wing, as well as some other additional classrooms until Dec. 14, when they too will return to the Lido complex.
On Jan. 2, Lido Elementary students now at East School will transfer to the Lido complex, while still-undetermined adjustments will be made for the West School and pre-k program. A return to the West School is expected in March.
Regarding enrollment, Superintendent Weiss said that grades pre-k through 12 have lost about 144 students off the books, while another 4 to 5 percent of students are expected to come off the books in the next month based on current estimates.
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