Area officials sound-off on pilot program to lengthen school year

By Hilary Lane

UTICA - Some students in Rochester will soon be spending hundreds more hours in the classroom a year. Would this type of initiative work in Mohawk Valley schools?

Officials say area schools were not asked to participate in the pilot program to lengthen the school year, but even if they were, there would be concerns.

"I think the issue is there are costs to do this and the grant money covers those costs and that's a great opportunity but our concern is always how do you sustain the program behind the grant," said Howard Mettelman, District Superintendent, Oneida, Herkimer, Madison BOCES.

The initiative, which will lengthen the school year by at least 300 hours, is launching in select school districts in Massachusettes, Connecticut, Colorado, Tennessee, along with New York.

The funds come from federal and state dollars as well as private grants.

Mark Vivaqua, Superintendent of Herkimer BOCES says in theory the program is a good idea. The more time kids are in school, the more they can learn. However, applying the program across the state is unrealistic.

"I would doubt that on a statewide or a nationwide basis this would work. There is less money to do what we do now," said Vivacqa. "So to think that there would be the funding, 300 hours is a lot of time, is hard to believe that would happen."

Area officials do say they will be interested to review the results that come out of the Rochester City School District pilot program.

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