Storm Clouds over the School Calendar

By Eric Wasserman

2012-13 School Calendar
Courtesy BMUFSD

Hurricane Sandy caused horrific destruction, including the loss of more than one hundred lives. A far less significant, yet apparent, effect of the storm was on Briarcliff High School’s academic calendar. Many BHS students found the transition back to school from the week off to be quite smooth. Due to the extended power outages, Principal James Kaishian made sure that no tests would be scheduled during the first week back to school. He also ensured that students were not overloaded with tests during the second week by designating certain days of that week for testing in various subjects. Briarcliff students were very pleased with Mr. Kaishian’s measures.

Many teachers empathized with the students’ situations because they too were without power at home. Some teachers took it a step further by not administering tests during the second week back to school because they recognized that students may have had a lot of tests during that week. Instead, some teachers assigned take home tests or problem sets and postponed their exams until the third week after the storm.

The storm also raised concerns about national deadlines. Some colleges extended their early decision and action application due dates. One set of deadlines that is not being extended are the dates for the Advanced Placement exams in May. Many schools, including those in Texas and Florida, start their school year much earlier than BHS. Therefore, the May AP exams come at the end of their academic calendars. For Briarcliff, the May AP exams are four to seven weeks before school officially ends, so BHS students are at a disadvantage by not having as many instructional days before the tests. Some students are nervous that the week off from school may affect their readiness for the AP exams, but many teachers have accelerated the learning process. Aditya Dave, a junior at BHS, believes that “the measures the teachers have taken to catch up are significant and finishing the curriculum before the AP exams won’t be a problem.”

If we need to miss more than one additional day of school because of bad weather, we may need to shorten our March recess. Superintendent Neal Miller explained that New York State requires 180 days of school for students. The administration built in five extra days this year to compensate for potential emergency closings.

The storm took away five instructional days bringing the total back to 180. The administration scheduled a school day for November 6 instead of a scheduled Superintendent Conference Day, which made the total 181.

Therefore, if there is one more Emergency Closing Day, no additional school days will be required. However, if there are two more Emergency Closing Days, then one day of school will be made up during the March recess. If there are three additional Emergency Closing Days, then two days of school will be made up during the March recess, and so on. Keeping track of the number of Student Attendance Days is akin to keeping track of golf strokes over and under par.

The BHS community recognizes that the most important thing is that we are safe from the storm and quite lucky to be alive because many people in neighboring communities were not as fortunate. If a little stress from tests and an extra day or two of school are the worst that we get from the storm, then we can handle it.


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