In his State of the State Address last Wednesday, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo put forth an proposal designed to increase school standards and better educate students: Add more classroom time to the school calendar.
To that end, he wants to offer competitive grants for schools that develop initiatives to improve student achievement — initiatives that must include at least 25 percent more learning time. It could be accomplished either by extending school days or the academic year.
At face value, Hampton Bays Superintendent Lars Clemensen said the governor's idea was a good one.
"More time to learn and the very smartest people out there working in our schools sounds great to me and I can appreciate the governor’s sense of urgency in making sure our public schools are as strong as possible as quickly as possible," said Clemensen.
However, the superintendent was quick to point out that funding for such an endeavor would be a significant factor in implementation. He said, "I am still mindful of the tax impact on our local communities and the ability of local districts like ours to fund this innovative idea in a way that still respects the local taxpayer’s capacity."
Mike Radday, superintendent of the Westhampton Beach School District expressed the same concern stating that extending the school day or school year "seems inconceivable unless there is a significant change in how schools are funded."
Already, he said, school districts across the state are struggling to preserve basic programs and opportunities for students as they deal with the implications of the tax cap.
"The governor spoke of competitive grants, but it seems highly unlikely that too much of that grant funding will find its way to Long Island districts," he said, noting that the idea to extend the school day or year, does have some merit.
The East Quogue School District is also reviewing the governor's proposal, but Robert Long, principal said that in the face of a two percent tax cap, providing a first class, quality education is already challenging.
"We would have to ensure that the program in future years doesn't become another unfunded mandate," he said, adding that the district does support improving outcomes for our students and has a responsibility to do so all the time, but the district must also maintain fiscal responsibility.
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