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Long Island

Staggered starting dates as LI schools open for September classes

Students arrive for the first day of school

Students arrive for the first day of school at Landing Elementary School in Glen Cove in the file photo taken on Sept. 3, 2013. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The first day of school will vary for Long Island's public school students, with five different starting dates in the 124 districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties -- and five systems opening for classes as late as Sept. 9.

Students return Sept. 1 in 32 districts, while 47 districts start classes on Sept. 2 and 13 districts on Sept. 3. After Labor Day, 27 districts start classes on Sept. 8 and five on Sept. 9.

The first continuous five days of classes in the 2015-16 school year will not occur until the week of Sept. 28, because schedulers had to take into account Labor Day, on Sept. 7, and the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In addition, the customary spring break period is affected by how the dates of Passover and Easter fall, with districts splitting the time off into two sections. In many years, those religious days occur at about the same time.

"It's a difficult calendar to develop this year because of the way the holidays fall," East Rockaway Superintendent Lisa Ruiz said.

State law requires districts to hold 180 days of school, though some systems have more than that. Each district does its own scheduling of class days and time allotted for staff development or so-called superintendent's days.

Five districts on the Island -- Plainview-Old Bethpage, Greenport, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island and Southampton -- will hold their first classes on Sept. 9, the Wednesday after Labor Day.

Lorna Lewis, superintendent of Plainview-Old Bethpage, said the district's contract with teachers stipulates a start date after Labor Day, which is the latest it can be this year.

"We are kind of unique, and I believe we might be the only district in Nassau that will be beginning as late as we are," she said.

Teachers there report on Sept. 8 and students arrive Sept. 9. To make up for the time, the district will not have a February break, which typically runs for a week.

Lewis said the district had a discussion with the teachers union, "but we are honoring their contract."

A call and email to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Congress of Teachers was not returned.

Lewis said she made parents aware of the 2015-16 schedule two years ago. The school calendar there runs 181 days.

The East Rockaway district's schedule shows the start-stop nature of the first three weeks. There, teachers return on Sept. 1 and school begins for the district's approximately 1,200 students on Sept. 2. Schools are closed Sept. 7 for Labor Day, Sept. 14 and 15 for Rosh Hashanah and Sept. 23 for Yom Kippur.

As for spring break periods, the district has scheduled days off on March 24, 25 and 28 around Easter, which is March 27. The next month, the district is closed the week of April 25, as Passover starts at sundown on a Friday -- April 22 -- and ends on April 30.The last day of school is June 23.

Ruiz said the district sought to start instruction earlier by opening on the second day of September.

"Starting after Labor Day -- it is late and you would have to find more days off during the year," she said. "For us instructionally, the spring has enough interruptions and . . . starting earlier allowed us to build in instruction."

In East Rockaway, the school calendar runs 182 days, including two teacher conference days.

Islip students return to school on Sept. 2, with teachers returning two days prior.

Susan A. Schnebel, the Islip superintendent and president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, said this year's calendar "proved to be a challenge for districts across the state."

She also noted that spring break was scheduled with the state's standardized tests in mind. In Islip, schools will be closed March 24 through 28 and during the last week of April.

Both Ruiz and Schnebel said they worked with their teachers' unions to develop the schedule.

The last school day for Islip staff is June 24. Regents exams and testing schedules for June are preset, "which limits our ending time," Schnebel said.


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