CORTLANDT, N.Y. - After Hurricane Sandy canceled classes in the Hendrick Hudson and Croton-Harmon school districts for one week, school officials say they're not counting on any "snow day" exemptions from the state Education Department.
"They rarely, if ever, do anything when it comes to giving an exception," said Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman. "Their typical view seems to be try to make up the days from your vacation days. That's kind of what most of us expect will happen."
The state mandates schools be in session for 180 days. If a school fails to comply with the measure, the school faces a loss of state aid. Fuhrman said any exemption would have to be done through an act of the state legislature. The state did provide such an exemption this past school year because of the damage done by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
"I do know there are people who are pushing the idea of the state changing this. I believe that would probably have to involve even the legislature. Some people are saying the governor could do it too," Fuhrman said.
For attendance purposes, delayed openings count as full school days, and don't count against the mandatory 180-day rule. Since Croton-Harmon Schools already has used five snow days, at least two days of the previously scheduled spring vacation days in March now will be in session.
"If six emergency days are used, school will be in session on March 25, March 27 and March 28," reads the Croton-Harmon Schools "parent guide" calendar. Essentially, said Fuhrman, officials are "hoping for a mild winter."
Hendrick Hudson School District has no emergency snow days left. The Hendrick Hudson Board of Education voted Wednesday to have classes April 1, a previously scheduled vacation day.
"Last year, we only used one snow day and that was in October. So let's hope history repeats itself," said Rick McCormack, spokesperson for the Hendrick Hudson School District. McCormack said the board of education is rescheduling the holiday one day at a time. If school is canceled again, school will be in session March 28 and March 27, respectively, McCormack said.
"We're all being very hopeful and optimistic that it will not come to that," he said.