The Bellows Falls Middle School (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
The Bellows Falls Middle School (Zachary P. Stephens/Reformer)
Tuesday November 27, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- Windham Northeast Supervisory Union's superintendent said all parents of Bellows Falls Middle School students have been sent a plan devised to make up most of the school days postponed due to construction and Hurricane Sandy.

Chris Kibbe said 13 days of school were missed because of renovation work and all but four of them have been rescheduled throughout the school year. Construction done in the classrooms and cafeteria forced the postponement of two four-day weeks and one five-day week.

Precautions taken to keep children safe as Hurricane Sandy passed through in late October resulted in another postponed day, which will be tacked on to the end of the year. Kibbe said BFMS already has longer instructional days than are minimally required.

He said all parents had been mailed a copy of the plan -- which he said has been approved by Vermont Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca -- but said another plan may be needed.

Kibbe said the administration looked "here, there and everywhere" to find room for postponed days. He said no school days will have to be made up on Saturdays or during school vacations. School will, however, be held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 21, 2013) as well as Town Meeting Day (Tuesday, March 5, 2013) and the day before it. Some other days have been added to the end of the year.

A certain number of teacher in-service days are required each year so several were held while the construction work was being conducted.

"I'm fairly happy with (the plan) because we didn't use any Saturday, we didn't use any vacations and we did not extend the school year a great deal," Kibbe said, adding that there will be 171 school days.

As for the four days that will not be made up, the superintendent said the Vermont State Board of Education is responsible for issuing a waiver for them. He said the board tabled the matter indefinitely and told him that "everything is fine."

Kibbe said if no school days are canceled due to snow this winter, every school in Bellows Falls other than BFMS will begin summer break on Tuesday, June 11. He said middle school students will get out on Thursday, June 13.

Originally set for Aug. 28, the first day of school was rescheduled for Monday, Sept. 10, but failure to pass an inspection forced Kibbe and BFMS Principal Heidi Lucas-Moccia to move the date again. The school's 257 pupils in grades 5 through 8 got back to the academic grind on Monday, Sept. 17.

Lucas-Moccia was unavailable for comment on Monday.

As only part of the building is being used, the middle school needed -- and received -- a certificate of occupancy from the Vermont Department of Public Safety in September.

Kibbe said the work on the second floor should be completed soon.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.