Longer School Year Too Expensive For Danbury

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Danbury public schools will not see a longer school year, despite a recent shift toward more time in the classroom across the country. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

DANBURY, Conn. – Although 10 school districts across the country, including some in Connecticut, recently announced plans for a longer school year, Danbury students don’t have to worry about more school days – yet.

“We think it’s a great thing to do,” said Bill Glass, assistant superintendent of the Danbury schools. “How realistic is it, now that’s the question. There’s no way local taxpayers would be able to afford it.”

Students would benefit from the extra time in the classroom, Glass said, but several hurdles must be overcome before a longer school year would be possible. Along with coming up with funding for additional pay for teachers and support staff, utilities and materials, there’s also the issue of heat. Most Danbury schools don’t have air conditioning, and extending the school year into the summer would mean students and teachers had to sit in extremely hot classrooms, Glass said.

“The schools are pretty hot during the last days of school now, during the second or third week of June,” Glass said. “Now if we push that back to middle of July, it’s going to be really hot in there.”

An extended school year would also interfere with the scheduled cleaning the district’s schools, which takes up several weeks during the summer, Glass said.

The 10 districts in Connecticut, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee that announced plans for extended school years could add up to 300 hours of learning. The plans are made possible in part by the National Center on Time and Learning and the Ford Foundation, which is providing $3 million a year in grants for the next three years, according to a New York Times article.

Although Danbury can’t afford to extend the school year for all students, Glass said there is a possibility the district could offer enrichment programs during the summer for a fee.

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As I recall the school year was extended from 180 to 185 days several years ago. The last day of the school year, in addition, was extended from its very sensible one hour for kids to receive their report cards to 1:00, an early dismissal day. That allowed everyone, since books had to be collected and put away, etc., to hang around, watch films or annoy each other on the playground for several extra hours. What a way to improve education!

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