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Wed., Sep. 2
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

SRC spends last available ‘snow day’


MALONE - School cancellations are often met with exclamations of glee. Choruses of “No school!” will sometimes ring through a household. It’s not unthinkable to imagine a child dancing or shouting at the prospect of a day spent in pajamas instead of in classrooms.

But if a need to close Salmon River Central School strikes again this year, everyone will more than likely be groaning.

Yesterday’s snow day was the final emergency day Salmon River had left out of the five days they stockpile at the beginning of the year. If another incident forces the school to close, administrators will have to take the time out of April vacation.

Definitely groan-worthy news for any family who already has vacation plans, but certainly less groan-worthy than the alternative monetary hit the school would take.

New York school districts must hold 180 days of classes to receive their full foundation aid from the state — for each day below that number, received aid will be reduced 1/180th.

It seems a small amount until it’s put against the $20.4 million in foundation aid Salmon River is supposed to receive for the 2012-13 school year. For every school closing that isn’t somehow made up by students, Salmon River would lose close to $114,000.

And those are really the only two options for the school in the case of another closing: April vacation or $114,000. The state pretty much forces the hands of school administrators into vacation days once the standard five emergency days are taken up. The monetary penalty can only be waived “after all available scheduled vacation days have been used as session days” according to the state Education Department.

For those wondering why the school cannot just tack on snow days to the end of the year, it’s the state again. June 26 is the last day schools are legally allowed to hold instructional days for students. Staff will be meeting June 27 for a superintendent’s conference day to make up the last of the 180 days.

The five emergency days this school year were used as follows: on Oct. 7 a pump in the water system malfunctioned, Jan. 6 was a snow day and on Jan. 26 the control panel for the water filtration system failed in the early morning and then a plugged chimney filled the school with smoke at night, forcing the school to close again on Jan. 27. Then, of course, Friday’s storm that left the area blanketed in over a foot of snow.

Salmon River has also had a multitude of delays this year due to sub-zero wind chill temperatures. Fortunately for the district, partial days still count towards the full 180 required for a school year.

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