WIBX Exclusive: Five Utica Schools Going 9-5 Beginning in September [UPDATE]
The Utica City School District is scheduled to receive a $4,104,000 Extended Learning Time grant, along with a $10,000 planning grant, that will greatly extend the school day for five area schools.
Nine school districts in the state have received eligibility for the grant. Utica is receiving the second largest allotment, with New York City Schools receiving $7,601,326 in funding.
Superintendent Bruce Karam says it is a two-year grant. All thirteen schools will not be affected right now. Two middle schools - John F. Kennedy Middle School and James H. Donovan Middle School - along with three elementary schools - Hughes Elementary, Kernan Elementary, and Roscoe Conkling Elementary, will be in session from 9:05am to 5:05pm on weekdays beginning with the school calendar beginning September 2014.
Karam says they are using existing personnel, and will not be adding teachers at this time.
We're not looking at this as not working. This will work. We will make it work because it's good for kids.
He says the purpose is to enhance academics and increase test scores. He says that their mission is to educate students and to make certain that they are "...learning, achieving, and scoring the best possible test scores that they can and that is our number one mission."
Karam says, "...(O)bviously we have just received the grant, we are putting together our parameters, we are putting together our policies and procedures as it relates to the parameters of the grant. So...we still have to lay out and map out all of that."
When asked about what happens if the program does not work during its first year Karam said, "We're not looking at this as not working. This will work. We will make it work because it's good for kids."
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi on the Utica School Day Change
Parents are being notified presently, according to Karam, and through the media, although no media has yet been officially notified. As for whether parents have been given enough time to prepare for the change in schedules Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi says notification is the district's responsibility.
When asked about concerns over the additional time spent by students participating in extracurricular activities and sports both Brindisi and Karam said that they believe the academics must come first.
Brindisi denies that the lack of notification had anything to do with potential criticism from parents. Both Brindisi and Karam say that they just learned that Utica had received approval for the Extended Learning Time grant.
When comparing the rollout of the news to that of the Common Core Brindisi says this is different, and that the legislature is working to correct problems with implementation of the Common Core.
Brindisi: "I would be the first to say I think the implementation of the Common Core was certainly very flawed."
Educational Consultant Rick Timbs on Common Core
Dr. Rick Timbs visited with First News with Keeler in the Morning in October of 2013 and
discussed the problem of funding when a caller claimed that schools have too much money. Timbs referred to the nearly $1.7 (b) billion in funding that’s been withheld by the state that could be used to train teachers on how to implement the Common Core and give students the tools they need to succeed. He also referenced the many schools in New York that are on the brink of financial collapse because of reduced aid and unfunded mandates.
Grant Recipients from Around New York
The list of grant recipients from the New York State Department of Education is below:
Name of District City Amount
- Auburn Enlarged School District Auburn $ 871,500
- East Ramapo Central School District Spring Valley $ 1,293,500
- Lackawanna City School District Lackawanna $ 542,370
- New York City Department of Education New York $ 7,601,326
- Southampton Union Free School District Southampton $ 2,572,402
- South Seneca Central School District Ovid $ 735,420
- Syracuse City School District Syracuse $ 3,075,000
- Utica City School District Utica $ 4,104,000
- Yonkers City School District Yonkers $ 3,149,620
UPDATE: During an interview with School Board President Christopher Salatino he said that participation is voluntary. When asked, however, if the school district would be awarded the same amount of funding if only a handful of students participate, Salatino said that they are still examining the ramifications of the grant.
Others disagree saying that the district is misinterpreting the requirements of the grant, which stipulate that a minimum number of students need to participate in the program to extend the school year by 300 hours. Some schools, including Utica, are said to be considering adding time in the summer or on Saturdays. Although they have not yet verified this with WIBX, they have cooperated with our interview requests. We agreed to give them more time to study the grant's requirements after they have had more time to digest them, following our initial inquiries.
We have been told several times that the district "just learned" of the grant, and was not yet ready to discuss the parameters when our queries were made this morning. As promised, we plan to continue this conversation on WIBX First News with Keeler in the Morning on Tuesday, July 8, 2013 beginning at 7:35am.
Utica School Board President Talks Modified School Hours
Below is our interview with School Board President Christopher Salatino.
Here is a comment from one of the parents who posted on the WIBX Facebook page:
Utica Teachers Association Cherie Grant on How This May Affect Teachers in the District
We spoke with the Utica Teachers Association President, Cherie Grant, who released the following written statement: "The UTA supports enriched learning experiences for students that focus on improving their academic achievement. As education professionals, we understand the importance of such learning opportunities. We look forward to working together with the district to ensure the success of this project."