More schools may cancel winter break

Joining other Long Island schools that lost instruction

Joining other Long Island schools that lost instruction time due to superstorm Sandy, the Smithtown, Kings Park and Hauppauge districts are set to cancel February winter breaks. Photo Credit: Ed Betz

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Joining other Long Island schools that lost instruction time due to superstorm Sandy, the Smithtown, Kings Park and Hauppauge districts are set to cancel February winter breaks.

The Kings Park and Smithtown school boards are expected to vote Tuesday to give up a four-day February recess. Hauppauge schools, which lost six days due to Sandy, has canceled its four-day February break and days off scheduled for March 22 and May 24.

The decisions won't affect holidays such as Presidents Day.

At least a dozen other Long Island districts have canceled vacations, snow days and superintendent's conference days because of Sandy.

In letters to parents or posted on district websites, school officials in Smithtown and Hauppauge said they risked losing state aid if they did not scrub their winter breaks. In addition, school officials said they were reluctant to give up a planned Passover and Easter week recess in late March.

Officials also worry they may face more lost time because of snow storms.

"We really don't have any alternative," Smithtown school board president Gladys Waldron said yesterday. "Can you imagine if you had to go to school on the Jewish holidays or Good Friday?"

State lawmakers from Long Island have proposed bills shortening the 180-day school year by up to 10 days in districts affected by the storm. But the waiver would not take effect unless all available vacation days have been used, said state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), the proponent of one such bill.

He said he expects the Assembly and Senate bills to pass, though it is not clear whether the Legislature will reconvene before the end of the year.

"If we have a horrific winter, we could have a situation where people have used their vacation days and they'll still have a problem," Flanagan said.

Waldron said extending the school year into July is not feasible because classes cannot be held after Regents exams scheduled for June. Those exams cannot be postponed, she said.

Canceling vacations may be a hardship for some families planning trips, Waldron said, adding she heard from parents who purchased nonrefundable airline tickets or booked ski trips in February. "People have said they have tickets already," Waldron said. "Really, our hands are tied."

With Lauren R. Harrison

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