To make up for lost school days from cold weather, some Syracuse-area school officials are considering cutting into spring break.
“One of the days added back could be the Thursday or Friday before spring break, or any day of spring break,” said Robert Dubik, superintendent of the Cazenovia Central School District.
A maximum of five school days can be excused by the state education commissioner due to extraordinary circumstances, according to the New York State Education Department website. Such circumstances include extreme weather conditions, lack of electricity and water shortages.
There are no rules about when a school has to close. But every school is required to be in attendance for 180 days, according to the state education department website. This can include days that start late or end early—as long as attendance is taken. School is not allowed to be in session on Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays and days following Regent examinations, according to the website.
In Syracuse City School District, school officials would consider cutting into spring break if the district lost more than four days, Michael Henesy, communications director for the district, said in an email interview. District officials use information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to decide on closing schools, he said.
One difference in Syracuse’s school district is that they allow for six days off of school due to weather or other problems, according to Administrative Bulletin 39 from the school district. The first day to be added back is May 23, which would otherwise be a recess day, according to the bulletin. If more days need to be added, the last days of spring break are added first.
In the Baldwinsville School District, not all of the emergency days have been used yet. Only three of the maximum five excused days have been used, superintendent Jeanna Dangle said. “We’re in a better position than some,” Dangle said.
The Baldwinsville academic calendar is built with 184 days into it, said Dangle—four more than is required by the state. This allows up to four days off without affecting the calendar. Right now, they are looking at plan in case they have to take more days off, Dangle said.
In the Cazenovia Central School District, students have lost five school days to the weather by mid-February. This is the second time in ten years that the maximum number of days has been reached, Dubik said. “Normally we use two and three,” said Dubik. “Rarely do we use five.”
Before deciding to cancel school, he said, he looks at road conditions, how many walkers attend that school, how much snow is expected and whether there will be sustained winds.
He hopes there are no more bad days this school year, Dubik said. Days lost in May would have to be petitioned to the state commissioner since there would be no other opportunities to make them up, he said. But, Dubik said, “It all depends on the weather.”
(Caroline Strange is a junior with dual majors in broadcast and digital journalism and anthropology with a minor in political science.)