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Greenburgh Students Could See Shorter Vacation Breaks

Rachel Blair, a Woodlands High School freshman, has been doing schoolwork at the Greenburgh Public Library. Many school districts closed all week after Hurricane Sandy.
Rachel Blair, a Woodlands High School freshman, has been doing schoolwork at the Greenburgh Public Library. Many school districts closed all week after Hurricane Sandy. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Most school districts have already used up their built-in snow days for Hurricane Sandy, so many Greenburgh 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 for last year that pushed the requirement up to 10 excusable days after Hurricane Irene, NYSED 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 towns in Westchester County and by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — will excuse schools to operate for fewer than 180 days.

Elmsford School District builds three snow days into its calendar year, which were already used before students returned to school Thursday.

"Once all buildings had power, which was today, classes resumed," said Elmsford Board of Education President Matthew Evans. "We didn't waste any time."

It's too soon to tell how Elmsford will handle the situation if it sees snow days this winter, but Evans added that because the county's areas were hurt in different ways by Hurricane Sandy, the commissioner should take things on a case-by-case basis.

"It's not a one-size-fits-all scenario," Evans said.

Greenburgh Central 7 District, however, remained closed Thursday and Friday as several of its schools were still without power. Board of Education member Terry Williams said  he wouldn't be surprised to see school days cut well into the summer.

"Never in my nine years on the board have I seen anything this bad," Williams said. "Cutting vacation time is the only thing that will prevent us from the school year going into July."

Rachel Blair, a Woodlands High School freshman, said  it is possible she will see a longer school year. But without electricity for entertainment, she's been spending most of her time doing school work at the library anyway.

"A lot of my friends have been coming to the library. I'm working on a five-page report now," Blair said. "It's not like we haven't been working."

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