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Would You Like to See State Lengthen School Day and Year in Basking Ridge?

Gov. Chris Christie proposed changes to school calendars in his State of the State address.

Oak Street School, Basking Ridge
Oak Street School, Basking Ridge

Gov. Chris Christie's comments on the subject were short on details in his  State of the State address on Tuesday afternoon, but the intent was clear: the governor is in favor of lengthening both the school day and the school year.

Students in New Jersey are required to attend school 180 days a year, although some districts extend that and some charter also extend the school days or school years to help students catch up.

"Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally,’" Christie said. "Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and the school year in New Jersey.

The move would boost competitiveness, Christie said.

Elementary school day extended for 2013-14 in four Bernards Township schools

Just this past fall, Bernards Township extended the school day in the township's four elementary schools by 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the afternoon, for a total half-hour's additional length of the school day for kindergarten through grade 5.

This year, the elementary school day in Bernards Township schools increased from six to six and a half hours, Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said last fall. He had said the new school day would be more in line with the average school day in the state's other elementary schools.

But also this year, and for upcoming years, the Board of Education revised the usual school calendar to end the district's traditional second full week of winter vacation in February, partly on the rationale that parents and students said they want the school year to end earlier than with previous years' final dismissals in late June.

"A major change would have many complexities to consider, those you mentioned would surely be among them," Markarian responded.

Contacted by email after Christie's speech on Tuesday afternoon, Markarian was asked to comment on the proposal of a longer year and school day, including whether such a change might increase local school costs or whether getting out later in the summer would conflict with the schedules of students heading to college or signed up for other summer activities.

With his proposal, Christie joins a national movement believing that more time in the classroom will yield better results for American students, who perform solidly average when compared to students in other industrialized countries. President Obama also has called for more classroom time for American students.

Do you think that the school day and/or school year should be lengthened in Bernards Township? What might be the advantages or disadvantages? 

Please let us know in the comments section below.

Clare Johnson January 17, 2014 at 06:24 AM
Why not keep them in school all day, 7 days a week, keep assigning homework over every break, test them more frequently and more rigorously, plug them in to more screen time, up their extracurriculars and disconnect them completely from their own childhoods?

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