Last week, Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to Monroe's school buildings and blocked bus routes with toppled trees, effectively wiping out five instructional days. On Monday night, Supt. of Schools James Agostine presented two options to the Board of Education to make them up.
"We lost a week of school once again, leaving the question, 'Are there enough snow days to get us through the year?'" Agostine said during the meeting held at the Masuk High School Media Center.
Monroe has a 182 day school year, though the state requirement is 180 days, but the superintendent does not want to give up those two days of instruction. Agostine said he would only consider doing that in an emergency.
According to the academic calendar, the last day of school for Monroe's students was June 13, and Agostine said tacking the five lost instructional days to that would move the end date to June 20.
However, without creating instructional days within the academic year, a lot of snow days from a harsh winter could make revising the calendar more rigid, so Agostine also proposed "Option 2".
The second option adds a half day on Nov. 21 — the day before Thanksgiving, takes Feb. 19 out of the February Vacation reducing it to a three-day-weekend, makes April 1 an instructional day and moves a professional day for the teachers to June 18, so the last day of school can be the 17th.
After some discussion, the Board of Education decided to go with Option 2.
Agostine acknowledged that some families have already scheduled trips on the day before Thanksgiving and said the school district will honor those plans.
Board Secretary Mark Hughes favored approving Option 2, but keeping the day off before Thanksgiving.
Board of Education member Dr. Alan Vaglivelo said the district had always had a half day before Thanksgiving until former Supt. of Schools Dr. Colleen Palmer decided that no meaningful instruction took place on that day.
Monroe Elementary School Principal Debra Kovachi, who was on the committee that made the proposal under Palmer, said other districts made it a day off and after Monroe followed suit there was a lot of positive feedback in the community.
"They liked it, so we kept it," she said.
But because of the bad storms over the past three years, Kovachi said other districts have put the half day back in.
"I think it's a no brainer," board member Mark Antinozzi said, before Option 2 was voted upon and approved.
Available snow make up days are June 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28.