JAMESTOWN – Because of a snow day earlier this year in the Jamestown School District, over 200 students missed scheduled New York State Regents exams. Now the school board is learning there’s a good chance the state wont schedule a make-up date.
Jamestown Superintendent Deke Kathman said that when the school closed in January 22 because of severely cold temperatures, 175 students were unable to take the state English exam, 54 students missed the state algebra exam, and 17 students missed the global studies RCT exam. He said that because the New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires those tests to be given only on the day they were initially scheduled, the students missed them in January will now mostly likely not be able to take them until June.
That news was unsettling to several school board members, including Paul Abbott, who said that considering New York State – and Western New York in particular – is known for severe winter weather, the state should have a make up policy in place for when some districts close on test days.
“I find it surprising the state does not already have a system in place to provide for these sorts of events so that they can have retesting [for the] Regents exams,” Abbott said. “This is obviously something that is very important to our students, some of them trying to graduate in January and this is a hurdle for them. It would be important for the school board as an individual body, but also the state school board association, to impress upon the education department that there has to be system in place when you have January Regents in New York Sate.”
School board President Joe DiMaio echoed Abbot’s sentiments, adding that the fact there is no make-up policy puts district superintendents like Kathman in a tough position, on whether or not to close school, knowing that those students who were scheduled to take the exams would be impacted.
“One of the things I think gets left behind is the pressure that it puts on somebody like Deke, who is in ultimate charge of having to do this,” DiMaio said. “You stop to think about it. The temperature at the time was minus 20 with the wind chill factor and we’ve got kids walking up English Street to Bush School, maybe not dressed properly, and that’s a tremendous risk when the temperature is that low.”
The school board is planning to send a request to the state education department, asking that it consider establishing some kind of system to make up exams when they are missed because of snow days. Kathman also said that he has requested the education department make an accommodation for those students who recently missed their test date here in Jamestown because of the school cancelation, but so far he has yet to hear back from them.