Westport schools establish new snow day policy

Times have changed. If a natural disaster – snow or hurricane or terrible winds –  hits Westport, the Board of Education (BOE) will no longer have to scramble to reach 180 days of instruction per year.

Until last year, three days were built into the year to accommodate unsafe weather and loss of electricity, which force school to close. This year, that number is five.

Superintendent Elliot Landon refered to the impact of Superstorm Sandy, which led to five consecutive days off and a post-storm mess of reorganizing the school year. “We had to deliberate over what to do in fulfilling requirements,” Landon said.

Staples weather guru Scott Pecoriello ’15 predicts a lot of snowstorms in the 2013/2014 winter.

“It’s smart to build in the extra days,” Pecoriello said.

Math teacher Stacey Delmhorst agrees, considering the policy change a win-win. “It’s good if we don’t use them because then we get out earlier in June,” Delmhorst said. “And if there are snow days, we won’t have to worry about something being taken away.”

Julia Paljakka ’16, however, feels differently about the system in general. She is especially concerned about the arrangement of days, should they exceed the limit. “They go off our summer holiday, and if there’s more than five, they go off our April break,” Paljakka said.

In response, Landon assured students and faculty that the system grew from an  interest in an overall smoother response to school closings.

“Ultimately, we’re giving ourselves more flexibility,” Landon said.