NORWALK, Conn. – If you’re a Norwalk parent planning to go on vacation in February you may need to revise your plans – due to Superstorm Sandy, your kids may be in school the entire month.
Interim Superintendent Tony Daddona recommended to the Board of Education Tuesday night that February vacation should be canceled.
Board Chairman Jack Chiaramonte immediately said he was in favor of the suggestion. “I understand that we are looking at another storm coming next week,” he said. “I hate for us to go through another heavy winter and pay the price at the end of the year.”
He added that the children need time to prepare for state-administered tests.
“We have 181 school days built into the calendar; we’ve taken six days off,” Daddona said. “So we have five days to make up. I believe right now the last day of school will be June 21. I am going to recommend that the board consider canceling the February vacation.”
He added that he wants to make March 22 a half day for the kids, to provide a half day for staff to catch up on some of the professional development time they have missed.
Both Daddona and Mayor Richard Moccia defended the decision to close school early as a snowstorm moved in last week.
“When we had the snowstorm, we were told it would hit Norwalk at 3 p.m.,” Daddona said. “I think that was a wise decision because some schools that didn’t have an early dismissal, those buses didn’t get home until after 6 p.m.”
“No superintendent has ever been able to accurately determine whether he should close the school, delay the school,” Moccia said. “All recommendations that Mr. Daddona made was based on the best information that I had and the emergency people had. I don’t defend us for erring on the side of safety for the kids in this town when we know snow storms are coming in.”
Daddona said that 10 schools were initially without power as a result of Sandy, and the number fluctuated.
“Most of our heating systems are computer run, so whenever there was a power surge it just created havoc throughout the district,” he said.
Two schools lost power for two hours at a time after being reopened, he said. “It was one of those situations where they lose power, then get it back, then lose it again,” he said, adding that it wasn’t really possible to send the kids home because of the challenge of scheduling the buses.
Moccia also thanked the BOE and the school system for its help in the emergency spurred by Sandy, including the Norwalk food service providing thousands of hot meals for the people in the shelter. “Without their cooperation many, many people would not have been warm and would not have been fed. The custodians at Brien McMahon were absolutely unbelievable … just tremendous response.”