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7 snow days built into calendar

Seven snow days are built into the Orchard Park School District's calendar for next year -- with three extra "snow closing emergency days" in for good measure.

Orchard Park, like many other districts, learned a tough lesson from the October Surprise storm of 2006 -- decide ahead of time which days to reinstate as class days, in the event of a major weather catastrophe.

"This is our first proactive calendar," said Superintendent Joan D. Thomas.

If the district needs to cancel school more than the seven days in its built-in cushion, parents, students and staff already know which days will be reinstated, based on the 2007-08 calendar the School Board approved Tuesday night.

First, May 23 -- the Friday before Memorial Day -- would become a student attendance day. If nine or 10 snow days are used, June 25 and 26 -- the last two days of Regents exams -- would become attendance days for elementary and middle school pupils.

Next year's calendar also features a spring break that does not coincide with Easter. Orchard Park, like other districts in the region, has adopted a calendar that follows that of Erie 1 and Erie 2 BOCES, with one week off in February and one week off in April.

Next year, Easter falls on March 23. Orchard Park has designated Good Friday and Dyngus Day -- March 21 and 24 -- as days off, in addition to the week off April 14-18.

Orchard Park teachers will begin next year with two staff development days, on Sept. 4 and 5, the Tuesday and Wednesday after Labor Day..

Board member Carla Marrazzo questioned why the district is using two Thursdays, Feb. 7 and March 27, to score math and ELA tests, rather than using a Friday or Monday. Those are days off for students.

Assistant Superintendent Dennis Fitscher said the Thursdays were ideal because they gave teachers enough time to score the tests and process them so they can be submitted to regional centers by the following Monday and Tuesday.


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