Niagara Gazette


January 30, 2014

Schools forced to make new plans as snow days pile up

Niagara Gazette — The weather was downright brutal throughout the month of January. Two “polar vortex” storms brought winds whipping chills through parkas while already frigid temperatures mixed with fresh snowfalls to create either a winter wonderland or a mess, depending on the viewpoint.

It also pushed local school districts to close elementary and middle schools four days, something parents took note of, especially if wake up calls came in the wee hours of the morning.

Four days, it turns out, weren’t scheduled into the calendars in Niagara Falls, Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield last year. They’ll need to make up at least one day of school for their youngest of charges to remain compliant with the state’s requirement of 180 instruction days.

“We’ll have to take a look at our calendar,” Niagara-Wheatfield Superintendent Lynn Fusco said. “Of course, children’s safety is of the utmost importance. Hopefully this particular snap is behind us.”

Each of the superintendents in the area are exploring their calendars for ways to find at least one day. Niagara Falls Superintendent Cynthia Bianco, for instance, said her district will look to take a previously scheduled conference day, when no students report but teachers are at work, and convert it into a school day for those who had school canceled Wednesday.

The switch works since the district asked staff to attend this latest closing, making it an impromptu conference day with terribly short notice.

“We had two days available for snow days and a third if we needed it,” Bianco said of the original schedule. “So, for those who are in grades pre-kindergarten, even though it isn’t required, through eighth grade will make up a day. We have superintendent’s conference days scheduled in May and June we’ll have to adjust.”

High school students, who are in the process this week of taking required regents exams and were asked to attend school if scheduled for an exam, do not fall into the same situation as those younger students because regents days count as instruction days, Bianco said.

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