Sandy Leaves School Calendar on Brink of Change

More days off will mean shorter spring break for students, as well as some other possible choices.

Any more school days lost to inclement weather or other circumstances would put the remaining 2012-13 school calendar in jeopardy.

Unlike many other school districts throughout New Jersey, Hillsborough lost only five days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Superintendent of Schools Jorden Schiff said at Monday’s school board meeting.

Hillsborough schools were closed from Monday, Oct. 29 through Tuesday, Nov. 6 as utility workers struggled to restore power to all parts of the township and the district’s nine schools.

School had been scheduled to be closed the week of Nov. 5  for three in-service days and two days for the annual New Jersey Education Association teachers convention in Atlantic City.

The school district was able to make up three of those days by having school on Wednesday, Nov. 7 and on the following days when the convention was cancelled.

That means the two snow days built into the school calendar have already been used, Schiff said.

And the school district dodged a bullet last Wednesday when a few inches of snow fell, but the roads were clear by Thursday morning.

Board member Judith Haas gave a “shout-out” to the township’s Department of Public Works for their work in clearing the roads.

With the extra snow days used, that leaves the school district with a problem.

“Inevitably there will be,” Haas said.

Any more school days missed because of weather or other circumstances would result in the face day of the spring recess, March 25, becoming a school day.

Additional closures will force the school board to decide whether to have school on Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Jan. 21), Presidents’ Day (Feb. 18) or to take more days from spring break.

The in-service days for teachers will be taken at the end of the school year in June after the last day of classes, Schiff said.

As school officials prepared to open schools last week, Schiff said the district was preparing a contingency plan if not all the schools would be able to open because of the lack of power. That plan involved having split sessions at those schools able to open, the superintendent said.

“The logistics are sophisticated,” Schiff said.

However, on Tuesday night, power was restored to Woods Road School, the last remaining school without electricity, alleviating the need for the split sessions, Schiff said.

Hillsborough was one of only four Somerset County districts to have full days of school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, he said.

Schiff thanked township officials for including him and other district officials in Office of Emergency Management meetings throughout the storm and its aftermath.

“We worked closely with the township and the utilities,” Schiff said.

The superintendent said he visited all of the district schools later in the week and was gladdened by what he saw on the days school was originally supposed to be closed.

“I think the kids really wanted to be back,” he said.

Student attendance on those three days averaged 86 percent, he said.

Schiff also praised teachers and other school staff members who came to school despite their own problems caused by the storm.

Some staff members managed to get to school even though they had no heat or hot water or their homes were damaged, he said.

One teacher who was supposed to attend a sister’s wedding instead came to school, he added.

“I’m very proud to work in this school district,” he said.

Mark November 14, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Sandy should have waited until next year so she would not conflict with Duwali!!


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