New York State is leading the charge of increasing the length of the school day and school year. Three elementary schools in the Utica City School District will move to a 9:00 am to 4:30pm school day and two middle schools will move to an 8:00am to 3:45pm school day, thanks to the New York State Extended Learning Time (ELT) grant. Originally reported by local news media as a 9-5 school day, Utica Superintendent corrected this in a subsequent interview. The Utica School District is one of nine districts awarded funding through this grant. This will extend the school day in select Utica schools by an hour and a half.
According to New York’s state education Web site, “The purpose of the ELT competitive grant program is to provide funding to school districts operating independently or in collaboration with not-for-profit community based organizations (CBOs) to increase school-wide learning opportunities in high-quality extended day and/or extended shool year programs with a focus on improving academic achievement.”
In an audio interview with WIBX, Utica City School District Superintendant Bruce Caram stated that they would be increasing classroom time each day in order to increase student achievement and test scores. Caram said, “The only feedback I’ve received from the few people that I’ve talked to is that it’s been very positive.”
Caram went on to say that anytime they can increase classroom time and review educational concepts, it’s a wonderful thing. However, it’s unclear how this would impact school sports schedules and after school enrichment club activities. When pressed about the ramifications of a lengthened school day, Karam stated, “Our mission is to educate children. So we have to make sure that the students are learning, achieving, and scoring the best possible test scores that they can—and that’s our number one mission.”
Since the announcement, Utica City School Board President Chirstopher Salatino has called for a one year delay of the increased school hours. Salatino stated in a WIBX interview that the lifestyle change involved is not palatable to teachers and parents in its current time frame because quick accommodations will need to be made in the implementation of the extended school day. In terms of whether he supports the new school hours, Salatino said, “I think this is fantastic. Children in the classroom receiving additional time for specific classes would only help with their success.”
Potential impacts to family dynamics have yet to be addressed. The typical school day might look something like this with little time to spend with family or friends outside of the pressures of school and homework :
8:30 am- transporting to school (15 minutes)
8:45am- transition time to enter school, go to locker, prepare for first class (15 minutes)
9:00 am- official school day begins
4:30 pm classes end, transition time for after school sports, enrichment clubs, etc. (15 minutes)
4:45 pm- after school activity (one hour)
5:45 pm- after school activity ends, transition time for parent pick-up (15 minutes)
6:00 pm- transporting home (15 minutes)
6:15 pm- transition time to enter the home, put school items away, get ready for dinner, etc. (15 minutes)
6:30 pm- dinner (30 minutes)
7:00 pm- chores, evening hygiene routines (30 minutes)
7:30 pm- homework (two hours)
9:30 pm- “free” time
A list of school districts awarded money from the Extended Learning Time grant can be viewed here.
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