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.

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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