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Extended school day is very costly

Maybe it’s true that extending school days and years can be vital to educating children in urban districts.

But as the Buffalo Board of Education found out, it’s also very expensive and so costly that the district is exploring another option instead.

To extend the school day from six hours and 50 minutes to 7.5 hours - or one class period - it would cost the district $48 million for the whole year. And the price tag to extend the school year by 14 days for a total of 200 days is $1.4 million per day.

And that's just for teachers to work the extra hours, explained Barbara Smith, the district’s financial officer.

There's also operating costs and "so many variables," said Smith, who gave her report during the finance and operations committee meeting Wednesday night.

It was board member Carl Paladino’s idea to look into how teachers would factor into the idea of longer school days and years, saying the concept is being recognized across the country as vital of the proper education of children in urban districts.

But after Smith made her presentation Wednesday night, even he agreed with other board members that the plan was very expensive. So instead, the board decided to explore the possibility of staggering teachers’ hours.

But, as Phil Rumore pointed out on Thursday, that idea was tried about five or six years ago with 13 public schools in need of improvement. The plan failed, he said.

“All reports said it was a complete waste of time,” said Rumore, president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. “The extra hours just didn’t work.”

Rather than spend more money to have students stay in school longer, he would prefer to see smaller class sizes and more services for students like English Language Learners “because the bottom line is what good is having oversized classes for extra hours or an extra couple of days?”

-- Deidre Williams

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |