Ossining Students Could See Shorter Vacations After Hurricane

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Students in the Ossining School District and Briarcliff Manor School District could see shorter vacation breaks this year after Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: The Ossining Daily Voice File Photo

OSSINING, N.Y. — Most school districts used up their built-in snow days with Hurricane Sandy, so many Ossining and Briarcliff Manor students may see shorter vacation breaks during the rest of the school year.

New York State Education Commissioner John King can excuse up to five of the required 180 school days for "extraordinary circumstances," according to the department, but only after all possible vacation days are used up in the district.

Although the state implemented a provision for last year that pushed the requirement up to 10 excusable days after Hurricane Irene, department spokeswoman 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," she wrote in an email.

The department's regulations say that not even a state of emergency — which was declared by several towns in Westchester County and by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — would allow schools to operate for fewer than 180 days.

The Ossining School District and Briarcliff Manor School District closed its doors for all five days this week. With power out Friday afternoon at the Briarcliff Middle School and Briarcliff High School, officials were uncertain how many more days the schools would be closed.

“I’m hopeful the Legislature will look into leaving that 180-day requirement given what is hopefully a once in a lifetime storm,” said Sal Maglietta, Briarcliff Manor School Board president. “Many schools may not even be open next week, so it has been quite devastating on the schools.”

The situation was unprecedented because of how many school districts were affected by the hurricane, Ossining School Board member Kimberly Case said.

“I think whatever decision is made will be fair because we’re not the only ones in this situation,” Case said. “We’re certainly hoping that it’s shortened and that we would be given some leniency on this. We’ve cut into our snow days a lot, and we haven’t even seen winter yet so we could definitely use that break from the state.”

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