Harp pushes to extend school day

RaymondNoonan_SuperintendentsMeeting-80
Photo by Raymond Noonan.

Next year, students at the Lincoln-Bassett School could be in school for 12 hours a day as part of a new extended school-day program.

During her mayoral campaign, Mayor Toni Harp proposed a “six-to-six” school model as a way of reviving struggling neighborhood schools. She suggested implementing the program first in Newhallville’s K-6 Lincoln-Bassett — one of the lowest performing schools in the district — and then replicating the model in other district schools.

The new model’s seeks to accommodate the “modern family,” which includes many mothers working outside the home, Harp said at a Friday press conference.

“The amount of time that women spend in the home has changed over the past 60 years,” Harp said. “The six-to-six school looks at the child and the family and the kind of support they need in this day and age with parents working.”

At the press conference, Harp officially received the Transition Report her team has been preparing over the past few months. The report included the idea of a six-to-six school in its outline of initiatives to improve education.

Transition team chairman Ed Joiner emphasized that in addition to improving academic achievement, the extended school day would have a “ripple effect” of decreasing other youth problems such as violence and crime by keeping students engaged while their parents are still at work.

Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries ’95 said that Harp’s plan for extending Lincoln Basset’s school day aligns with the Board of Education’s goal of improving student achievement at the school.

“We knew we wanted to do something different with Lincoln Basset,” Harries said. “Harp’s plan is helping to shape exactly what that change is.”

Last month, the state invited Lincoln-Bassett to apply to join the Commissioner’s Network, a cohort of under-performing schools that receive supervision and monetary support from the state Department of Education. Two New Haven high schools have already joined the Commissioner’s Network, receiving a total of $1.4 million this year.

Lincoln-Bassett is currently forming a redesign committee that will create a plan to submit to the state by May, according to Executive Manager of Leadership Development Gemma Joseph Lumpkin.

While Harp’s extended-day program is based on that at a six-to-six magnet school in Bridgeport, Lumpkin said the exact model to be implemented at Lincoln-Bassett is still being decided. The goal is to create before and after school programs that address the needs of the community and engage students, she explained.

Lincoln Basset’s extended school day would come one year after an education nonprofit, National Center on Time and Learning, announced a five-state initiative to redesign school schedules. Connecticut was included in the plan, and Governor Dannel Malloy announced earlier this year that a second wave of schools in Meriden, East Hartford and New London will extend their school-day, bringing the total number of Conn. students in the program to nearly 5,000.

Although many consider the extended school day an effective way to improve student achievement, others are skeptical of the model.

Dave Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, said that while the idea of extending the school day is noble, he would want to see more empirical data showing its success before deciding to implement the program in New Haven.

Lincoln-Bassett School serves roughly 300 students.

Comments