|1--28-14 Education and Related Issues in the News|
Star Ledger - How much will a longer school day cost? New report has some answers "... While each school features its own unique schedule, most used the extra time for intensive tutoring, enrichment classes and teacher professional development, the report found. The schools used public funds from federal, state and local sources as well money from private philanthropic sources. The range of costs was broad. An elementary school in Arizona added 132 hours to the school year at a cost of $290 per student, while a school in Massachusetts added 540 hours at a cost of $1,695 a student..."
Star Ledger - N.J. Assembly issues committee assignments
Star Ledger - How much will a longer school day cost? New report has some answers
When Gov. Chris Christie proposed expanding classroom time for the stateís public school students, one question was on everyoneís mind: How much will it cost?
A new report from the National Center on Time and Learning provides some data about the expenses associated with longer days and extended calendars. "Financing Expanded Learning Time in Schools" examines five of the estimated 1,500 schools that have increased class time in an effort to improve achievement. The study found no single model that defines the reforms, but rather that "educators need to forge their own unique paths."
"Itís laudable that the governor has chosen to focus on the antiquated American school calendar, but the devil is in the details," the centerís president Jennifer Davis said.
The report focuses on five schools, including the Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy in Elizabeth, to explore the choice of programs and their associated costs. While each school features its own unique schedule, most used the extra time for intensive tutoring, enrichment classes and teacher professional development, the report found. The schools used public funds from federal, state and local sources as well money from private philanthropic sources.
The range of costs was broad. An elementary school in Arizona added 132 hours to the school year at a cost of $290 per student, while a school in Massachusetts added 540 hours at a cost of $1,695 a student. When calculated as cost per hour per student, the additional expenses ranged from $2.20 to $5.23.
Davis said the costs of extending the day are lower than those of adding days to the calendar.
"Most districts and schools have decided to go the more cost-effective route by lengthening the school days, and the summers have been targeted for students with more needs, often funded with philanthropic dollars," she said.
Edreira Academy has both a longer day and more days, and its choices and costs give a clear indication of how other schools in New Jersey might approach the issue.
A K-8 school with 524 students, Edreira operates eight hours a day for 200 days a year. The additional 430 hours a year costs $717,294, which breaks down to $1,369 more than every other district student, according to the NCTL report. The report found the added costs came to $1,369 per student, or $3.18 per hour per student.
That figure is somewhat misleading, however, because it doesnít take into account that the entire Elizabeth district has expanded to eight-hour days. A district spokesman said the added 90 minutes of instruction each day costs about $500 for each of the 24,800 students enrolled in the stateís fourth-largest district.
The report found that $638,351 of the $717,295 in added expenses covered additional salaries for the 45 full-time equivalent positions. Administrative salaries, other staff salaries and busing for the 20 additional days account for the balance.
Sense of ownership
Principal Howard Teitelbaum, who has led the school since 2010, said the teachers earn more because they work more. He said there is very low faculty turnover and no grievances have been filed in the 14 years since the school opened.
"The teachers are invested in more than their classrooms. They feel an ownership of the building," he said.
The schedule is created to maximize student interest and energy, Teitelbaum said.
"We start with art and music so students are excited to come and to be on time," he said.
Core classes, including math and language arts, are scheduled for the middle of the day, and from 1:30 to 4 the students take electives, from drama to student government to band to a new engineering/design class that uses technology to spark creativity.
"The longer day allows us to have a richer experience for the kids, a broader curriculum," he said. "This might be their only chance to explore another language or use this type of technology."
Students in K-5 take Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, while middle-school students choose one of those languages and dig deeper, he said. There are "intervention" periods each day that are tailored to individual student needs. The school also has four bands, four choruses and three orchestras. The added days allow the teachers to really meet their students needs. In addition to cutting down on summer learning loss, the four extra weeks "take the pressure off teachers," he said.
"Extended year and extended day are different animals," he said. "The extra time in the day gives us more subjects to do and different ways to approach them. The extra month means greater depth and allows us to meet the needs of the kids."
12 states sign on
Davis said 12 states have passed laws in the last two years to increase learning time in public schools, and the Obama administration has made additional time a centerpiece of its reforms. She said successful programs are the ones rooted in community needs.
"For most people, itís just logical that more time on task is going to be beneficial," she said. "Iíd encourage the governorís people to take their time Ö to learn about the research, maybe visit high-performing expanded-learning schools to get a sense of the schedules that are making a difference. You cannot mandate all at once."
Star Ledger - N.J. Assembly issues committee assignments
Matt Friedman/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger
Committee assignments for Assembly members obtained by The Star-Ledger show that Oliver (E-Essex) will sit on two committees -- Commerce & Economic Development and Transportation -- and will not have a leadership position on either.
Oliver could not immediately be reached for comment. Nor could Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), who replaced her as speaker two weeks ago.
Other members, however, are set to see their influence grow as new heads of committees.
Assemblyman Gary Schear (D-Passaic) will lead the powerful budget committee Ė a post that had been held by Prieto.
John McKeon (D-Essex), who two years ago lost his chairmanship of the environmental committee, will now head the judiciary committee. He takes over for Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex), who just moved up to the state Senate.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), an advocate for expanding gaming to the Meadowlands, will chair the Tourism and Gaming Committee.
Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) will lead the Regulatory Oversight committee, while Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) takes over the Financial Institutions and Insurance.
And Bob Andrzejczak (D-Cape May), who has been in office for less than a year, will lead the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Andrzejczak, a wounded Iraq War veteran, will also serve on the Military and Veteranís Affairs Committee.
The state Senate, which had very little turnover in the November election, kept all its committee chairs the same.
Garden State Coalition of Schools