Thousands of Connecticut children will soon be spending more time in school as starting next year, three school districts including East Hartford, New London and Meriden will add 300 hours as part of a five-state pilot program.
The goal of the pilot program is to help the state's lowest performing students.
On Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited two school systems that will be using the program, East Hartford and Meriden, where he explained the plan to educators.
Malloy said Connecticut can spend millions of dollars building schools, but feels the state should be spending more money to improve learning.
About one-fifth of first graders in Connecticut struggle because they have a poor vocabulary.
"We have 30 low-performing school districts, which educate 41 percent of our children and 11 of those districts are now in the process of elongating school time," Malloy said. "And that's a good thing."
The governor said he's committed to helping some of the lowest performing children. Starting next year, O'Connell Elementary in East Hartford will be one of seven schools to add 300 hours to the school year. It will be up each school to decide whether they want to lengthen the school day or the calendar year.
Education reform is not a new idea, but how to do it and pay for it has been a problem for many schools. Connecticut will pay for the pilot program with $100 million of state funding and private grants.
The goal of the pilot program is to include all 40 schools in the state that are under performing.
Parents have mixed reactions about the proposed plan.
"I think it's a great idea," said parent Tiana Pham of East Hartford. "There are a lot of schools in foreign countries that do more than us. And they are doing great."
"In a way it's sad because kids get out at 3:20 (p.m.) now and they are tired. Adding more hours and they hardly got summer," said parent Liz Rivera of East Hartford. "But in the other way, it's good for them because they could learn more."
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