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Bill Would Stretch the School Day, Extend the School Year

Three-year pilot would be funded by corporate contributions that would earn 100 percent tax credits.

A Democratic-backed bill aimed at extending the school day and the school year could morph into a broader measure that also pays districts to experiment with innovative approaches as to how time is used in schools.

The bill (S-2087) would furnish up to 25 districts with grant funding to evaluate longer school schedules. The pilot would run for three years and be paid for with corporate contributions that in turn would earn 100 percent state tax credits.

The measure passed the Senate Education Committee Monday; it was voted out by the Assembly education committee in June.

Just as soon as it passed, one of its chief Senate sponsors said yesterday that she would revise the bill significantly before taking it to a full vote, opening up both the programs available for grant funding and the financing mechanisms to pay for them.

“Let’s really raise the bar,” said state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), chairman of the Senate committee. “Let’s see what other best practices we can weave into this to make this a comprehensive bill.”

“I wanted to get the conversation going, and get everyone moving on this,” she said.

Ruiz said the bill could complement a proposal by the Christie administration to set up a so-called Innovation Fund in the fiscal 2014 state budget. It would provide $50 million in grants for a range of yet undefined projects.

If the new measure passes, it would award comparable sums for stretching daily and annual schedules, as well as for other scheduling innovations: up to $24 million in the first year, $48 million in the second, and $72 million in the third.

Ruiz yesterday said she still wanted to keep the focus on extended schedules, pointing to growing support for longer time in the classroom. Still, she said the current bill needed some stricter guidelines as to what districts could try.

“While I don’t want the state to tell districts what these will look like, we should set down some parameters,” Ruiz said after the committee hearing.

Cosponsored by state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer), the current bill would require a district to have the support of a majority of its families and its staff to even apply for the funding. The state would pick a cross-section of districts (geographically and socio-economically) to participate in the pilot.

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NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.

thomas coyne September 26, 2012 at 11:56 AM
This is New Jersey, by the time they finish with this bill it will cost us money and the crooks in Trenton will be putting it in their pockets and shoveling it out the back door to their cronies.
Joe R September 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM
I wish ALL politicians, (D or R), would keep their filthy paws off of education. They only make things worse. Bush's NCLB was an unmitigated unfunded disaster. Obama's RTTT is an ugly abomination, Arne Duncan should be fired and made to do 10,000 hours of toilet duty in Chicago schools along with Rahmbo Emanuel, Rhee, Bill Gates, Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, Eli Broad, the Waltons and all the billionaires trying to take over US public school education.
Joe R September 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Christie and Cerf should be made to do latrine duty in Camden city schools.
7 out September 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Maybe all politicians from both parties should be required to send their children to public schools. Then we can see if they still believe in high stakes tests, scripted lessons, more mandates like the mandatory HIB lessons next week and jamming 30 kids in a class.
Kyle Willis September 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM
I felt as if I learned more when it was less structured. Now with all the government regulations, I feel over pressured just to pass. Everything the teacher does now is structured. We can't "bend" the rules anymore and I think that takes away from my school experience.

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