Snow days

| 05 Apr 2018 | 04:34

By Nancy Kriz
— While March came in like a lion, it sure didn't go out like a lamb, leaving area residents hopeful the beginning of April would bring spring-like weather and no snow.
Students, parents, teachers and school administrators were hopeful that last Monday's snowfall - close to seven inches in some parts of the greater Monroe area - would still allow school to be open with a three hour delay.
It wasn't meant to be. Thus, April 2 - which had already been called back as a spring break vacation day for the Tuxedo and Monroe-Woodbury school districts, became another day school was closed.
Officials initially called for a three-hour delay, finally alerting families that school would not open.
Even with Monday's closure, Tuxedo students still have the state-mandated 180 days of school in place.
"Tuxedo is fine with days as I was already planning on having the students come in on Friday, May 25 when it was originally planned as a day off," wrote Superintendent Nancy Teed in an email to The Photo News. "I operate under the premise that we should not slide down a slippery slope sitting on the 180 day mandate, but rather exceed that number to be safe in the event there is another emergency closing for some unforeseen reason."
But, in the Monroe-Woodbury School District, its 2017-18 calendar has school in session on May 25, with a three-day Memorial Day weekend. With the use of this past Monday as a snow day, that means there's only 179 official school days in place versus the required 180.
State aid affectedThe 180 days are important not just for instructional purposes, but for purposes of state aid. The district could lose 1/180th, or one day, of state aid for not being in session.
However, Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez said the State Education Department has advised her the district should file paperwork for what's known as an "Extraordinary Adverse Weather Day."
Rodriguez said state officials told her the district must file the paperwork in August for this request, which is the annual time all state aid paperwork is to be submitted.
The state's expected granting of the day as such means the district will get credit for the day, for purposes of state aid.
Part of the paperwork submission includes Monroe-Woodbury providing documentation that it had a school calendar in place showing 180 days of school. The 2017-2018 calendar had 187 days built into it - as district calendars of prior years did - to account for possible snow closures, Rodriguez said.
Additionally, the district must demonstrate it has no more giveback days available and no available superintendent conference days to use.
In Monroe-Woodbury's case, it used Monday, March 26 (the first day of spring break, which became a call back day) as a Superintendent's Conference Day.
The last day off from school for Monroe-Woodbury is Monday, May 28. But that's a national holiday and doesn't qualify as a call back day.
'We believe we are in good standing'"When they grant you the day, you get credit for the day," Rodriguez said, noting she believed this would be the first time in recent memory the district would make this request. "This is what they said to me on the phone. We believe we're in good standing."
In fact, Rodriguez said, she's shared the information with many of her colleague superintendents who have the same challenge as Monroe-Woodbury. The SED was very helpful in advising her on what needed to be done, she added.
Like Tuxedo, Monroe-Woodbury closed school nine times due to snow. Rodriguez said there were at least six days with either two- or three-hour delays due to morning weather conditions.
"At the heart of all this is making sure I can transport students safely," Rodriguez added. "Monday was the same scenario. When I realized the snow wasn't stopping and weather people weren't correct, I needed to close school. I don't ever recall having this much snow in March. I hope for no more snow."
Well ... that might not happen, so keep the snow boots on standby.
The Facebook page "First Due Weather from the Compound," which is Monroe-based, is currently forecasting four to seven inches of snow this weekend, subject to updates as the weekend nears.
However, the operative word is "weekend," meaning the forecasted snow will not impact any school day.
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