NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Most school districts have already used up their built-in snow days because of Hurricane Sandy, and New Rochelle is no exception, so students may see shorter vacation breaks during the rest of the year.
New York State Education Department Commissioner John King can excuse up to five of the necessary 180 school days for "extraordinary circumstances," according to the department, but only after all possible vacation days are used up in the district.
While the state implemented a provision last year after Hurricane Irene that pushed the requirement up to 10 excusable days, Education Department spokesperson Antonia Valentine said it's too soon to tell whether a similar provision will be enacted this year.
"We can't predict whether the Legislature will act to provide relief from the 180-day requirement again this year," Valentine wrote in an email.
The department's regulations say that not even a state of emergency — which was declared by several communities in Westchester County including New Rochelle and by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — will excuse schools to operate for fewer than 180 days.
The New Rochelle School District builds two snow days into its calendar year, which were already used before students returned to school Nov. 5. New Rochelle schools were closed the whole week because of power outages, and downed trees.
While it’s too soon to tell how New Rochelle will handle the situation if it has snow days this winter, the district will have to fit more days into the calendar because some instructional days were lost during the storm's aftermath.
“Without a waiver from the state, we potentially will have to find three more days on the calendar to make up since we lost five instructional days during the storm,” the district said in a statement.