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Huntington among schools canceling midwinter break

The Huntington School District Board of Education votes

The Huntington School District Board of Education votes unanimously to adopt a revised school calendar to make up from the days lost due to this month's storms. (Nov. 19, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Huntington's seven-member school board voted unanimously Monday night to cancel the district's entire five-day midwinter break, as the number of Long Island school systems seeking to make up class time lost to superstorm Sandy continued to climb.

Copiague's district also called off its entire February break Monday night. East Williston decided to cancel three of the five days in its midwinter break.

Elmont, Hewlett-Woodmere and Rockville Centre all are scheduled to meet on the same question Tuesday night.

Already, seven districts have announced plans to call off all or most of the midwinter break: Cold Spring Harbor, Freeport, Harborfields, Locust Valley, Middle Country, Roslyn and South Huntington. Mineola has canceled two days of the break.

Elsewhere on the Island, many districts are holding off making a decision until later this month, saying they want to see if the state will grant waivers from its required 180-day academic calendar. However, Huntington Superintendent Jim Polansky said he was convinced Albany would stick to the requirement.

"It has been made clear to me and my colleagues that no waivers will be granted until all available vacation time has been used," Polansky said.

Albany has so far made no specific promises of waivers, saying the law requires districts to exhaust vacation time first.

"If the state were to offer a waiver, then we would reconvene and discuss it," said Amelia Brogan, president of Cold Spring Harbor's board. "I think it's a very difficult thing for parents. We have some people who canceled trips and can't get refunds."

Elsewhere, some board leaders said that winter vacations, once canceled, will probably be lost for the year, because parents will not have time to juggle their schedules. Those leaders note that state lawmakers, who have the authority to grant waivers, will not go back into session until after the first of the year.

"That doesn't give you enough time to notify parents," said Jim Kaden, president of South Huntington's board, which voted last week to cancel four days of midwinter break.

Schools shut down across Long Island for periods of two to 12 days in the storm's wake, disrupting classes for more than 450,000 students.

Veteran school administrators on the Island described the loss of class time as unprecedented for the region.

In surveys Monday and last week, Newsday identified at least 11 other districts that plan to discuss possible cancellations of all or part of the midwinter break. More than 40 districts have either called off some winter or spring vacation days, or plan to discuss it.

With Michael R. Ebert

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