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Rochester, N.Y. - Five Rochester elementary schools will expand their school day next school year. The schools were selected by a national program that will allow them to provide extra instructional time by adding 300 hours of school time for the year.
That's equivalent to eight extra school weeks.
That means students will see an extra 60 to 90 minutes to each school day, depending on the needs of the students in each school.
RCSD Superintendent Bolgen Vargas hopes the move will help bridge the gap between city and suburban schools.
According to the district, city elementary students get 972 hours per year of instructional time.
Compare that to 1,052 hours for suburban students and 1,735 hours for charter school students.
"We believe that this approach to expand the school day will allow us to meet the needs of the teachers and students in a way that we haven't been able to do in the past," Vargas said.
School 46 is one of the schools that will have a longer day.
"We'll start at eight in the morning and approximately go until 4:10 which also allows for extra time for parents and family time in the evening and we'll get our kids when they're nice and fresh in the morning," Principal T'Hani Pantoja said.
The schools were chosen for the program based on their success in completing a rigorous and comprehensive planning process.
That process involved a fully collaborative planning among teachers who voted for the program, community members, union officials, parents and administrators.
In addition to the core curriculum, students will have extra-curricular activities such as knitting, French class and participating in a step team.
The district said it has already had success at School 9 where the school day was extended to 5 p.m. this school year.
Staff told 13WHAM News that attendance at the school was at its highest and students say they're more engaged.
"First I was unhappy because I didn't want to stay in school for that long," said student Trenice Young, "but we get to learn extra stuff for the next year."
"I know they're going to start with, 'oh we have to be in school longer' but once they see what they're going to be doing, they will learn so much and gain so much more, Robert Burns of the Expanded Learning Program said.
Schools 9, 10, 23, 45 and 46 will take part in the program next school year.
Vargas said he hopes to add more schools in the future.