Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed for a longer school day and school year in his annual State of the State Address, and he said the state would pay for the entire cost.
"We need more learning time, my friends, if we really are serious about improving education," Cuomo said.
Cuomo's plan would leave it up to individual school districts on whether or not to enter the program. If they opt in, they would have three choices: lengthen the school day, lengthen the school year, or combine the two.
Districts would get reimbursed 100 percent of the cost, according to Cuomo, saying he hoped that would be an incentive for districts to opt in.
2 On Your Side reached out to several local school districts to get opinions from the superintendents.
Frontier Central Superintendent of Schools James Bodziak said he supports the idea.
"I do believe that there is good reason to consider a longer school year as well as a longer school day," Bodziak said, adding that there's evidence that it works from districts that have already extended the learning calendar.
Niagara Falls Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Bianco said she's "very interested" in the governor's proposal and said she would likely prefer the longer school year, because the shorter summer would mean students are less likely to forget as much material during the break.
Mark Mondanaro, Ken-Ton Union Free School District Superintendent, said his middle schools have already added additional instructional time, and he is open to expanding that, especially if the state will pay 100 percent of the cost.
The superintendent of the largest school district in the region, Buffalo Public Schools, is also on board. Dr. Pamela Brown has long been supportive of longer school days and years.
But one local superintendent is a bit skeptical. Wilson Superintendent Dr. Michael Wendt said simply being in school more isn't enough. He thinks it's about being productive with the time students are in the classroom.
Dr. Wendt said he would rather see the state provide more aid to lower classroom sizes and fund advanced classes.
Cuomo also proposed a full-day pre-kindergarten program, giving high-performing teachers more money and creating a "bar exam" for teachers "to ensure that the best and brightest are teaching our children."