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Readers: Districts Should Keep School Break as Scheduled

As districts mull using February vacation days to make up lost classroom time from Sandy, most readers believe it's not a good move.

October’s super storm Sandy closed local schools for an entire week and district officials are now mulling over whether to cancel February’s winter break session to make up for lost classroom instruction time.

The Sayville Board of Education is expected to make a decision at its next meeting on December 6, and the Bayport-Blue Point Board of Education may announce its intentions at its next meeting on December 4.

B-BP Interim School Superintendent Neil Lederer is recommending the board use four days of the five-day break week for school instruction.

At the BOE workshop session on November 20 Lederer urged the board to make a decision as quickly as possible so that staff, students and students’ families have as much notice as possible given trips likely already planned.

“I do think we need to make up at least three of those class days,” he said, adding that the February week of the 18 to the 22 is a better time frame for class make-up given the religious holidays occurring within the Spring break week.

He also asked administrators to poll staff about February break attendance to gauge potential substitute teaching costs.

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A majority of Patch readers, who provided comment on Patch’s Facebook and a poll on the topic, aren’t too keen about districts canceling the February break however.

Many believe students need the time off and that most students will continue to do well in school even with the class time lost thanks to Sandy

“I don’t think they should as it’s not the kids fault the hurricane happened,” wrote Ginger Briefs.

“Some of these kids have been through enough taking away there [sic] vacation because we had a state of emergency and evacuations is wrong, some people have trips and things planned, add to the end of the year if they must replace these days!” wrote Elisa Schmidt.

Andrea Gallo DiLoreto agrees with Schmidt’s assessment.

“No way! Winter break should not be cancelled. It is not the fault of anyone but Mother Nature that the kids were out of school. The days they were out were most likely filled with stress, no power, and possibly cleaning up their homes or relocating. We have highly skilled teachers in Sayville, and intelligent students. Between the 2, I am sure they are mostly caught up by now. I say just let it be....let all have their vacations,” she wrote.

Christine Blander-Mendez was one of the few advocating using the break time. She said she expects the decision will ultimately come down to whether most of the staff will go on vacation even if the week is cancelled.

“Then we will know. I believe that Feb. vacation is a waste because they were just off in December for nine days. No wonder we are failing our students in the big picture i.e. China and Europe, I believe they go to school all year! So with that said cancel it. Too bad sometimes you have to sacrifice a vaca for the betterment of our children,” she wrote.

Michelle Messina Koerner said that while she is “all about kids going to school,” she believes they are entitled to a break as are the teachers.

“People have plans and to make comments like "poor them", "too bad", "guess we need to survey teachers to see how many need to go on vacation" is just silly. Whether it’s a planned vacation, time with family, work around the house, etc. it's planned long before the storm or because of the storm and no one, teachers, admin staff, students, etc. should be penalized as a result of the storm,”she wrote. “Anybody realize what that week is going to be like if they take it away, all the absent students, all the absent teachers, it will be a joke for the kids to even be there!!"

In a lighter vein, reader Heidi Nemith said she’s all for canceling the vacation week as long as local families aren’t headed for snowy areas.

“If it keeps everyone off the slopes President's week then I'm all for it! Stay in school!” she wrote.

Wendy Pittari November 28, 2012 at 11:27 AM
This was a forced break. Not relaxing. This was and still is a stressful time. Let the kids have a relaxing break and if they must make up the days, do so at the end of the school year.
Mary November 28, 2012 at 12:02 PM
By the end of the year the students and the teachers are burnt out and exhausted. If we must make up the time, it makes more sense to do so in February.
Susan Reilly Wood November 28, 2012 at 02:33 PM
The days will have to be made up one way or another. The winter break is as good as any other time. Unless a decision comes down from Albany that the week missed doesn't have to be made up the schools have to do something. The kids are going to lose days somewhere a long the line. Unfortunately if Albany doesn't forgive the days and they aren't made up and we have any snow and school has to close vacation days in the spring will be lost. There will be no snow days for the schools use. So it will come down to losing a vacation or adding days at the end of the year.
SoMo November 28, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Can't make up time around Easter because you have Passover in there as well. Can't make up days at end of he year because class time is needed before the Regent's exams, not after That leaves built-in snow days or Feb break (which has no religious affiliation).
Sarah November 28, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Students only have 179 days of instruction. High schoolers who have regents and AP exams can't afford to miss 4-5 days of instruction. There is hardly enough time in each day to fit in all the lessons that need to be covered before all the state exams for all grade levels. The February break was added to school schedules in the 1970's to save fuel during the oil crisis. It was never intended to be a permanent break. Our kids can't afford to lose 4-5 days of classroom instruction.
Michelle November 29, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Continue with the break...if necessary, make it up at the end of the year. Better yet, the districts should be closely monitoring what goes on during regular school days. IMO, 4-5 days of instruction could easily be made up by not watching movies during instruction time. Three different hs academic classes watched movies the first few days of school AND during the year!! Last week my kid quoted the teacher saying, "When in Doubt, pull Nemo out!" Really??!!! There are far better methods to instruct Marine Bio!
baseballnut November 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM
I can't believe that B-BP is going to wait until December 4 to make a decision on this. There have been several news articles (Newsday/Fox 5, Channel 12) that have included the schools to be closed AND those that were considering closing. B-BP was not included in either; Sayville was included in the undecided category. I would have started looking into options for canceling flight/travel plans. If B-BP has to make up days, there are alternatives from taking an entire week - take a day from the Feb break, a day from the Dec break, a snow day and a Teacher's Conf. As for the comments about the original intent of the Feb break being to save fuel so it's no longer needed - great, cancel, but not 2 months before - do it prior to the school year so people can plan accordingly. If the Feb break is cancelled this year, can someone bring home my son's homework? We won't be there!
Judy Mottl (Editor) November 29, 2012 at 02:18 PM
In case you want to read more parents' and readers' feedback, this topic is getting lots of comments on Patch's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SayvilleBayportPatch?ref=hl

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