'You can't get more bang for the buck'
This very readable new policy paper on a longer school day reminded us of an issue we forgot to follow up on.
Last summer, David Simmons, R-Maitland, asked Gov. Crist to consider expanding a pilot project that lengthened the school day by an hour at four Central Florida schools – with dramatic results. Simmons estimated the program could be extended to every D and F school in the state for $33 million. To put that in perspective, that’s less than 3 percent of what’s proposed in new spending next year for the class-size amendment.
Alas, the idea is as dead as the 65 percent solution is alive. It's not in the governor's proposed budget. It's not on the Legislature's radar.
"It's a great idea, but it's simply not in the cards," Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, chair of the PreK-12 Policy Committee, told the Gradebook not long ago. The reason: In a tight budget year, we can't afford it.
We'll give Simmons, who also pushed unsuccessfully for more flexibility on the class-size amendment, the last word:
"I don't believe that we can afford not to do it. There is no doubt that if anyone wanted to pick the solution, the most effective way of improving the scores, the performance of children, adding an extra hour a day would do it. And the cost is inconsequential compared to the results and gains. You can't get more bang for the buck."
Ron Matus, state education reporter