After a month-long absence of meetings due to Hurricane Sandy cancellations, the Bedford Central school district gathered and debriefed on their response to the storm and discussed necessary schedule changes resulting from school closures.
School officials, on the whole, had high praise for district staff and local residents for seeing the community through difficult times. In a video of Wednesday's school board meeting, Board President Susan Wollin thanked Jere Hochman, superintendent of schools for the "tremendous amount of time" he and his team put in to return the district to normalcy. She also extended gratitude to first responders who were "working 24/7 in these past few weeks."
Hochman, who in the meeting video characterized the last few weeks as "a blur," acknowledged the administration, faculty and staff, who helped students returning to school with no power at home and maintained professionalism throughout the post-storm period.
Among the scheduling adjustments discussed at the meeting:
- The marking period for middle and high school has been pushed back one week to allow for material to be covered and tests administered (no changes to elementary timeline).
- Friday, Dec. 7, originally reserved for parent-teacher conferences, will now be a half-day session for middle and high school.
With two snow days left in the calendar, the district may not have to dip into other planned days off to fulfill the state mandate of 180 days of school.
Mark Betz, assistant superintendent of business, said, in the meeting video, in the event of a snowy winter—and if the state legislature does not grants school districts a dispensation on meeting the 180-day mandate—the district might first take back Feb. 18, and next look at April 1.
No decisions will be made until the district gathers feedback from staff and community about what days would be best to use if necessary, Betz said.
Hochman said the number of days left in the calendar would not affect how snow day decisions were made. On whether the district should open partially in future post-storm scenarios, he asked the school board to give it policy consideration.
"Parents count on school to be open so they can work; kids who are on free or reduced lunch count on a warm place to be and a hot meal," he said in the meeting video.
Hochman said the district benefitted from putting measures into place pre-storm, including moving food to refrigerators backed up by generator power.
On communications, Hochman said at the meeting that establishing a Twitter account and Facebook page for the district to communicate emergency information was valuable. Staff are already working on a text messaging system to disseminate information in the future.
He acknowledged town officials, particularly in Bedford, where an emergency command center brought "all the folks who needed to communicate" in one room. In addition, he said leaders in Pound Ridge and Mt. Kisco stepped up in their communications.
On the utility company response, he said Con Edison had a representative at the EOC meetings daily who understood the distict's needs. "Though NYSEG was not in the room," he said, "there was communication. Once NYSEG understood this campus is essentially a city—with over 4,000 students and 250 bus routes twice a day—they responded. And we appreciate that response."
Hochman also praised Tom Briggs, director of facilities, who worked from "dawn until midnight," to return the district to operational.
"I can't tell you how proud we are of everyone in the district for just stepping up and saying, 'what can I do?,'" he was recorded as saying.