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