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LI schools adding class days, cutting spring break to make up for snow closures

Tommy Rendano tries to stay ahead of the

Tommy Rendano tries to stay ahead of the storm as he clears his driveway as heavy snow begins to fall on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Garden City. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Some Long Island school districts will hold classes on days during the April break to make up for closures during the winter's snow and ice storms, while others will use extra days previously built into the 2014-15 calendar.

"It certainly has been a challenging winter," West Babylon Superintendent Yiendhy Farrelly said last week.

More than 56 inches of snow have been measured at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma this winter. Nearly all of Long Island's 124 public school districts had to close for at least three days during the winter season to date.

West Babylon had built three possible snow days into its calendar -- two around the Memorial Day weekend and a third on April 10. The March 5 storm pushed the district to schedule April 10 -- the Friday of the week of spring break -- as an added class day.

In the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district, administrators have scheduled classes on April 2, the day before Good Friday, to make up a fourth day that was lost to snow. Schools are closed the week after Easter Sunday, which is April 5.

The district already has scheduled classes on three days around Memorial Day weekend when students originally were going to be off, Superintendent Lorna Lewis said.

"This one is particularly difficult, because it is a religious day," she said of April 2, observed by some Christians as Holy Thursday, adding that she is hopeful schools are finished with closures because of weather this academic year. "Honestly, there are no more days. I don't know what we would do, but we would have to develop a plan if that happens, because safety always comes first."

The William Floyd school district, which had two snow/emergency days built into the calendar, was closed for three days because of weather. As a result, the district will be open on April 10.

The minimum state requirement is 176 student instructional days and four conference days. Some districts are using conference days as instructional days. Others have a longer calendar, beyond the state requirement.

Some districts, such as Commack and Wyandanch, do not have to dip into spring break.

The Jericho district's calendar extends to 186 days, so while the district closed four days for snow, it still has four more days to take if needed, Superintendent Henry Grishman said.

"Historically, we have believed that a longer school year is better for instruction and for kids and for our community -- and our staff agrees with us," Grishman said. "We are in good shape. We used four days and we have the flexibility of using four more days."

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