What hurricane and blizzard? Malloy nixes efforts to shorten 180-day school year

The hurricane and blizzard conditions that hit the state in recent weeks are not enough to persuade Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to give districts the ability to shorten their school year.

State law requires schools to be open for 180 days each year, and many school districts have already exceeded the snow days built into their calendars.

Asked on WNPR’s Where We Live if the state would be offering any relief from the law so districts could shorten their school year, Malloy said no.

“I think school districts are going to have to work that out for themselves. If you are asking me if I think children in Connecticut should have less than 180 days of school, the answer is no,” Malloy said. “That’s the law.”

But Malloy did leave the possibility that spring and summer breaks will not need to be cut into, mentioning that longer school days to make up the difference could be a possibility.

“But you could [reach 180 days] in other ways. You could add an hour a day to the remainder. You could cancel some vacations. There are lots of things you can do. But Connecticut children shouldn’t suffer because we have bad weather. They need an education. We know we’ve fallen behind in educating our children… Cutting the school year is not the answer. In fact, lengthening the school year is the answer,” he said.

The State Department of Education reports that about 45 school districts — or almost one-third — closed for five or more days after Hurricane Sandy in November. It’s unclear how many days districts had to close because of last week’s snowfall.

Most districts build in just one or two snow days into their calendar, reports the education department.

Thirty other states besides Connecticut have the 180-school day requirement, with the remaining states allowing districts to have longer school days to meet the hours of instruction requirements, according to the Education Commission of the States.

If Connecticut does change its mind and decide to relax this requirement, it would not be the first time a state has had to reconsider its requirements because of natural disasters. Following Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana relaxed its requirements. Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington have also changed their laws in recent years as well.