School Districts in New York, Mass., and Conn. to Experiment with Longer School Days

Dec 5, 2012

Earlier this week, officials in five states announced they would be participating in a pilot program that would add hundreds of hours in classroom time to the school year. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more…

Thousands of students in new York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Colorado may see more classroom time next year. In a collaboration between the states, the Ford Foundation, and the National Center on Time & Learning,  at least 300 hours will be added in the 2013-2014 school year. The schools will utilize state and federal funding, and grants from the Ford Foundation to finance the programs.

Jennifer Davis, co-founder and president of the National Center on Time & Learning said that the participating school districts will have to make their own decisions on how to add learning hours by expanding te school year, school day, or both. She said the program will begin by having faculty, administration, teachers unions, and the community come together to develop a plan over the next year.

Davis toured Connecticut Tuesday with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. School districts in New London, Meriden, and East Hartford are participating in the program. She said the enthusiasm was high about the new program.

Superintendent of Meriden Public Schools Mark Benigni says that one of his districts elementary schools is already experimenting with a longer school day with positive feedback.

Benigni said that the longer school day requires a strong, trusting relationship between administration and the teachers unions, and the community including organizations like the YMCA and the Boys & Girls club. He added that by brining the program to new schools in the district he hopes it will increase literacy and education in the STEM fields.

In a release, Gov. Malloy said that the program would help close the “nation’s largest achievement gap.” 3,184 students in Connecticut will experience the program.

In Massachusetts, schools in Fall River and Lawrence in the Eastern part of the state will be participating. Gov. Deval Patrick said on Monday that the program is not just about expanding the school day, but integrating new ideas into the classroom setting.

In New York State, public schools in Rochester will also be participating.

According to the NCTL, over 19,500 students across the country will begin experiencing the expanded school year in 2013.