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Supers: Extending School Easier Said Than Done

Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach and East Quogue school district officials weigh governor's proposal for more learning time.

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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Wendy Alberti January 16, 2013 at 06:14 PM
So not true!!! You leave out a few factors in the equation. There are many students who go back to "their country" and miss a month of school, making it very difficult for them to "catch up." Also, there are many students with learning disabilities, and difficult home lives. Despite this, I (as a teacher) and my colleagues give 110%. I take my job very seriously and I would not be in this field if I didn't care about children.
Andrea Nydegger January 16, 2013 at 07:26 PM
I am so tired of people blaming schools for the lack of progress with students. I work in a school and many students have no structure or effort being put in to their education at home. Kids come in sleep deprived, having no good nutrition. They do not do their homework and talk about being on facebook and xbox live all night. That is happening during the parent's watch. Yet the schools get blamed not the downfall of family structure and rules. Parents who do want help can't find qualified mental health services or their insurance doesn't help pay for it. Maybe Governor Cuomo needs to put his energy into saving family support systems at home and the mental health system. The students who have structure at home and loving/supportive parents who actually eat family dinners with them, seem to thrive and are doing well in school. Let's help support families who need help in providing this rather than bashing schools and teachers.
jks January 31, 2013 at 03:13 PM
THis situation is very sad and the students are the ones who suffer. How do you get parents to pay more attention to what is going on with their children? From what I see this situation has become worse, but why?
mary February 01, 2013 at 12:23 PM
Liberals attitudes have led to the break-down of the family structure, that's why.
Alicia Palifka February 06, 2013 at 02:20 PM
You are 100% right Mary.

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