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Tarrytown Schools Could See Shorter Vacation Breaks

Downed trees and wires from Hurricane Sandy closed the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns for three days this week.
Downed trees and wires from Hurricane Sandy closed the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns for three days this week. Photo Credit: Meredith Shamburger

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Kids in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow got an unexpected five-day weekend when Hurricane Sandy hit the area.

Now school officials are getting them back on schedule and wondering how the impromptu vacation will affect spring break.

“We are waiting to hear from the state education department regarding requirements to make up the lost days,” Superintendent Howard Smith said Thursday afternoon.

The school district has two remaining snow days on its schedule, Smith said. If those days are used before March, the district would have to consider cutting into the annual spring vacation week.

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 by the district.

While the state implemented a provision for last year that pushed the requirement up to 10 excusable days after Hurricane Irene, state Education Department 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 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.

Schools opened Thursday morning in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, with elementary schools seeing a slight delay. Second- and third-graders were bused to Washington Irving Intermediate School because there was no power at Winfield L. Morse Elementary. The school canceled its after-school programs.

Smith said the first day back was “just another day” for many students.

“Things went well today,” he said, noting student and teacher attendance were strong in all grades.

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