Stormy Winter Could Mean Shorter Spring Recess for South Orange, Maplewood Students


Hurricane Sandy forced the South Orange-Maplewood School District to use all of its emergency-closing days, requiring the Board of Education to adjust the school calendar.

Although the school district had originally set aside three days for emergency closings for the 2012-2013 school year, South Orange and Maplewood schools were closed for five days as a result of Hurricane Sandy last month.

Maplewood Middle School, Clinton Elementary School and Tuscan Elementary School currently have no emergency closing days available. Jefferson Elementary School has one emergency day available, while all other district schools have two days available.

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If there are any closings, make-up days will begin with April 8, 2013, originally scheduled as part of spring recess, and will move forward to April 12, 2013, if necessary, according to the district.

“Will it be enough will depend on the winter,” said Suzanne Turner, director of strategic communication for the school district.

She said make-up days also were added in November by adjusting the schedule to include three extra days.

School was in session Nov. 6, originally scheduled to be a professional development day for staff, and Nov. 8 and 9, on which schools were previously scheduled to be closed due to the annual New Jersey Education Association convention.

Up until last year, there were only two emergency days allotted in the calendar; last year was the first year the district allowed three, according to Turner.

“Last year three was enough, this year it wasn’t,” Turner said. “It’s hard to tell from year to year.”

The updated calendar includes Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, as a regular school day, originally scheduled to be a day off for students, according to the district’s website.

With the winter still ahead, the district has planned additional make-up days if any school is forced to close due to inclement weather.

“Those owed days allow us a buffer in case of inclement weather,” Turner said. “Last year there were no emergency closings after the October closing, other years we’ve had two or three closings throughout the winter.”

If district schools do not use all of their allotted days, there will be give back days, or days removed from the calendar, at the end of the year, she said.

Give back days will begin with May 24, 2013, and then May 28, 2013 if necessary.

The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.

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