After yet another week filled with icy roads and snow-covered sidewalks, East Hampton School District managed to keep its doors open, turning to two-hour delayed openings instead of school cancellations to prevent further cutting into its already shortened April break.
The district has used three snow days so far, most recently on February 3, exceeding the two snow days allotted by New York State, forcing schools to open Monday, April 14, which was initially scheduled as the first day of spring break.
The state requires schools to be open 180 days a year and does not permit districts to keep school open past June 27. If schools are to be open for less than 180 days, said East Hampton School Board President Pat Hope, the district would be charged 180th of its state aid—about $15,000.
While cutting from the schools’ February break, which started on Monday, was technically an option, the extremely short notice and the break’s timing is far from ideal.
“People suggested we pull from the February break,” said School Board President Pat Hope, “but a lot of parents out here who work seasonally use the break to go away. It’s the true downtime of our seasonal economy.”
Neighboring districts like Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton, as well as districts in western Suffolk, face the same issue.
“We have two built into the schedule, this year we’ve taken three, so the first giveback day is April 14,” said Pierson High School Principal Jeff Nichols. “So right now school will be open that Monday and if we have any more snow days, we’ll take from the following Tuesday and so on.”
Similarly, East Hampton, like many other districts, was confronted with the same problem last year after Hurricane Sandy, using more snow days than the state permits before winter had even begun.
“Last year was an anomaly due to a hurricane, this year’s an anomaly due to frequent, intense stormy events, and there’s nothing that can really be done about it.”