Several Utica City Schools to extend school day by an hour and a half thanks to grant

The school day will be significantly longer for several schools in Utica, after receiving an Extended Learning Time grant worth more than $4 million, according to WIBX.

Utica City School Superintendent Bruce Karam says that under the two year grant, two middle schools and three elementary schools will see an extended school day starting this September.

Superintendent Karam tells CNY Central that the school day at John F. Kennedy Middle School and James H. Donovan Middle School will go from 8:00am to 3:45pm, and Hughes Elementary, Kernan Elementary, and Roscoe Conkling Elementary will go from 9:00am to 4:30pm.

This will mark an hour and a half increase in the school day, which would give students an extra hour and a half per day in the classroom.

The grant specifies that the longer school day is voluntary, and they need 90 percent of students to participate if they want to keep the grant.

Superintendent Karam says he wants to see 100 percent of students participate.

They do not plan to hire more teachers, and will instead compensate their current staff for the additional classroom time. When asked if parents refuse the extended day, Karam said â??Weâ??ll have to take a look at that.â??

When asked about how the change would affect extracurricular activities, like sports, Karam said that academics come first, and the district will try to make accommodations for student-athletes.

Karam says that the â??prime objective is increased student achievement and test scores. This money will help us achieve that, especially during the time of high accountability through the common core and teacher evaluations.â??

Some parents are skeptical of the plan to keep children in school for almost eight hours. Cathy Sturgen from Whitesboro said her young son is already exhausted after a standard day at school and thinks districts should be looking for other options.

"I would rather they continue school through the summer. Because kids lose so much during the summer. So if they are looking for a way to boost test scores, stop summer break but don't keep our kids until 5pm. That's too late," said Sturgen.