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Utica school district receives delay for extended school day program


The Utica City School District is delaying a plan to make the school day longer in order to gather more input from teachers, parents and students.

The district was supposed to extend the school day in five schools this fall, stretching the average student's day by about 25 percent. But Superintendent Bruce Karam says the district only had about seven weeks to come up with a plan and needed more time.

"That late of a notification that we received did not give us enough time for planning purposes and organization of a program, and execution of a program, to have it implemented for the opening of school in September," Karam said. "It only gave us about six or seven weeks, which is not nearly enough time. So we requested a one-year delay."

Karam says the state approved the district's request for a delay and gave it three options. It can either begin the program this fall and receive three years of funding, start it in January and get two-and-a-half years of funding, or start next fall and keep the original two years.

"If we do move ahead and make that final decision a little bit down the road here, obviously we would go with the one year extension, because a program of this magnitude involving the kind of change that it's going to involve in parents' schedules, students' schedules, teachers' schedules and so on," Karam explained. "We need a year to plan for it."

He says the district wants the community's input on the issue to decide how to move forward, or even if it'll take the money.

"We do not want to move forward unless we have the full cooperation of all the stakeholders involved, because obviously we're going to need that if we're going to have a successful program," Karam said.

The Utica school district was awarded more than $4 million last month to begin the program. Nine districts across the state received funding to extend their school days. Only New York City received a larger grant.

Meetings to discuss how to work with the program are scheduled to start in late September, once students, teachers and parents have had time to adjust.