March 23, 2018
Dear KLSD Community,
I am writing to provide information regarding the number of snow days we have used this year, where we stand relative to New York State’s minimum required number of school days, and the status of our April break.
First, though, it is important to acknowledge that this has been a most frustrating winter. We have lost more school days than in any year since the mid-1990’s. We have dealt with extended power outages and with challenging weather forecasts. Be assured that each decision to delay or close school is reached only after consulting multiple weather services, an in-person assessment of road and campus conditions, consultation with town services, and consultation with all 18 superintendents in the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES region. That all occurs before each of those 5 a.m. phone calls with which you have become so familiar. And still, despite our best efforts, there has been at least one occasion this year when we attempted to open and quickly wished we hadn’t, and at least one other occasion, this week, when we closed and wished we hadn’t. While we always want to open school, when uncertain about conditions, we will always err on the side of safety.
If we do not experience any additional snow days this year, our schools will have been in session for 180 days at the middle and high schools (177 student days and 3 staff days) and 179 days at the elementary schools (176 student days and 3 staff days). The discrepancy was caused by that Friday storm (March 2nd), when we attempted to open all schools, but were forced to close the elementary schools before they could open, due to rapidly deteriorating weather. According to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), 180 is the required minimum number of days school must be in session (176 student days and 4 staff days).
Because we have not fallen below the minimum number of student days, our April break will remain fully intact. We are working with our staff to recoup additional staff time.
You may be aware that some of our neighboring districts have converted some or all of their upcoming April breaks back into school days. Each school district’s calendar is different (some do not begin with as many additional days built-in as we do) and some districts (particularly due to recent power outages) have missed even more days than we have. Those districts that are now taking back vacation days are doing so in order to get back to that minimum number of 180. Regardless of the number of days, we are mindful of how much instructional time has been lost and we are asking our administrators and teachers to evaluate carefully the days they have remaining so as to maximize instructional opportunities.
Finally, please be assured that if further delay/closing decisions are necessary this year, those decisions will continue to be driven by safety. Please also be assured that I’m first in line when it comes to hoping that we are done with snow for this school year.
If you have questions about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Superintendent of Schools