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Utica school district seeks extension on extended-day plan

By WKTV News

(WKTV) - The Utica school superintendent is grateful for a $4.1 million grant to extend the school day an hour and a half -- but he says the original plan for this fall is just too soon.

The grant would extend the day to 3:45 p.m. at Donovan and Kennedy and to 4:30 p.m. at Hughes, Kernan and Conkling Elementary Schools.

"In all practicality, we have six weeks before the opening of school," said Superintendent Bruce Karam. "There isn't enough time between the time they official notified us and the time school opens that we could really get this planned right, organized right, get all the stakeholders on board to try to make it a successful program."

Karam has asked the state for an extension so the district could implement the longer school day in fall 2015. If they don't get the extension, he's not sure yet if the district would opt out of the grant and extended day, or somehow make it happen.

"Well, there's already been another school district that was awarded the grant that has already pulled out," he said.

Yet another district has asked for an extension after Utica did. More time to figure out and shift transportation and busing schedules, athletic schedules and what to do with students who are already excelling at their studies and don't necessarily need the extra help.

"you know, we could have an enrichment program for those students," he said. "Help them get ready for the next grade level."

Karam also would like more time to get parental input on these decisions. He feels he and the district made a strong case for an extension. He's waiting to hear back from the state.

He also said the extended-hours program would not be voluntary, but mandatory. The school will require a 90 percent attendance level, not a 90 percent participation level.

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