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Longer School Days Approved by NJ Assembly Panel [POLL/AUDIO]

A measure advanced Thursday by the Assembly Education Committee could put a scare in even the most eager and successful New Jersey students.

NJ Classrooms
Jack Hollingsworth, Getty Images

The bill would establish a three-year pilot program of longer school days and school years in participating public school districts. According to the bill’s sponsors, the goal of the program is to study the effects of increased classroom time on advancing student achievement and enhancing the overall school learning environment.

“Considering the potential benefits to our students, it’s worth looking into,” said Assembly Democrat Gilbert Wilson.

Participation in the program would be voluntary. Interested districts would submit an application to the state Commissioner of Education, indicating how long the district’s day and year would be extended. The application would also be required to include proof that the majority of district staff, parents and students are in favor of the program.

Up to 25 school districts would be chosen to join the program, and after three years of extended classroom time, the commissioner would submit a report to the governor on the program’s effectiveness.

Democratic Assemblyman Charles Mainor said the pilot program would also benefit low-income students whose families may not to be able to afford private tutoring or after-school learning activities.

Mainor continued, “We want to give our students the best tools to succeed academically. This program will help us determine whether additional time in the classroom really makes a difference.”

Under the bill, the state would provide tax credits to corporations which contribute funding for the pilot program. The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association expressed its concerns with the potential impact the tax credits could have on state revenues and other education funding.

Tax credits would be capped at a total of $24 million the first state fiscal year, $48 million the second state fiscal year and $72 million the third state fiscal year.

The Education Committee released the bill with a vote of 7-3.

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