Malverne students and faculty will have a shorter February break this year and longer school days for part of 2013 to make up the instructional time lost due to Superstorm Sandy and November's Nor'easter.
The district lost six instructional days due to the storms and their aftermath. To make up three of them, the Malverne school board approved a resolution at Tuesday's business meeting to designate Feb. 19, 20 and 21 of 2013 instructional days.
To recoup the other three days while keeping the remaining of scheduled vacation days intact, the district is taking a creative approach. The district and the Malverne Teachers Association came to an agreement on Dec. 6, which the board approved Tuesday, to extend the school day by 30 minutes for multiple days in January, February and March. From Jan. 7* through March 8, classes will begin 15 minutes earlier in the morning and students will be dismissed 15 minutes later in the afternoon.
The hybrid approach Malverne is taking is different from what the West Hempstead and Lynbrook school districts are going. They have outright eliminated five scheduled vacation days from their calendars.
"We felt this was the best way to have quality instruction take place and still meet state mandate," Malverne Schools Superintendent James Hunderfund told Patch.
He explained that it's common for students and teachers to be absent from school when districts have to eliminate previously scheduled vacation days. This results in a loss of instruction and continuity, which he hopes to minimize by opting to extend existing school days rather than taking back more vacation time.
Hunderfund said the district's bus providers have all been notified. Notices will be posted to the Malverne UFSD Web site soon and sent home to parents to make sure everyone is aware of the schedule changes.
the Malverne school district also cancelled parent-teacher conferences and the second round of the STAR assessments to prevent further loss of valuable instructional time, and announced that professional development for teachers would not be conducted during classroom time for the remainder of the year.
By taking these steps, Malverne's 2012-2013 school calendar will be restored to the 180 days that New York State mandates schools must be in session. However, if Malverne schools are forced to close again during the school year due to snow or another occurrence, officials will have to tap into the spring break unless the state grants a waiver.
*This story was updated at 3:45 p.m. to reflect the correct start date for the extended schools day -- Jan. 7, not Feb. 7.