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What you need to know for 04/26/2017

Fire closes Ballston Spa school for entire week

Fire closes Ballston Spa school for entire week

District officials have options for making up lost instruction time
Fire closes Ballston Spa school for entire week
Firetrucks outside Ballston Spa Middle School on Sunday.
Photographer: BRETT SAMUELS

BALLSTON SPA — Ballston Spa Middle School students are getting an unexpected vacation this week, after a Sunday fire damaged the school’s mechanical systems and controls.

District officials announced Monday the school would be closed for the entire week, while contractors worked to repair the damage caused when a floor cleaning machine battery caused a fire, which was quickly extinguished.

But since the fire damaged a mechanical room that controls schoolwide systems — electricity, heating and plumbing — the building was closed to students and staff for the rest of the week, district spokesman Stuart Williams said.

Williams said it would not be possible to accommodate the roughly 1,000 middle school students at an alternative district location.  

“We know they can’t be in there until next Monday,” Williams said.

District officials did not know as of Monday afternoon whether they would be able to make up the instruction time or if teachers would be able to provide students with coursework to do this week, Williams said.

The unplanned school break comes two weeks before students will be out of school for the weeklong winter break, from Feb. 20 to 24.

School districts in New York are required to be in session for all students for no fewer than 180 days each year. But Ballston Spa officials may have some wiggle room to make up the missed days later this year. The district schedules 186 school days and has used two snow days so far, Williams said.

Districts also reserve a certain number of days toward the end of the school year in the event that more snow days are required than are budgeted for. And the district is permitted under state regulations to hold school days otherwise scheduled as vacation days, including days off for religious observations like Passover and Easter, according to a state Education Department guidance document.

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