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Links of the Day:

- There’s a push in poor-performing urban school districts to lengthen the school day and year. The idea makes sense for children who need to improve test scores, have unstable home situations and little access to extracurricular enrichment.

But what about the children in these districts who are doing very well? The Chicago Tribune reports on a “social divide” the longer school day mandate has exposed:

Some students endure 45-minute bus or car rides to school every day, and their parents worry about them being exhausted. They fret that a longer day will encroach upon after-school sports and drama classes. And at academically successful schools, parents question whether their children even need the extra class time.

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But the longer school day debate has exposed the social divide in a district with 86 percent of students classified as low-income, but with a growing number of middle- and upper-middle-income families speaking out against across-the-board district policies.

Adam Urbanski, head of the Rochester Teachers Association, has said a longer school day is not right for every school and child. As the district and union begin talks on lengthening the school day, Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has indicated there won’t be a blanket mandate.

One way to build flexibility – and save on overtime – is to have staggered staff and student schedules. For example, some staff could teach from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and other staff from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students could attend school from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or another slot in the middle. I learned about this approach from former Freddie Thomas Principal Sandy Jordan, who said the staggered scheduled was popular with staff and students.

- The Healthcare Association of New York State is out with a study on physician shortages. It shows a loss of physicians in many Upstate rural counties. In the Rochester region, 59 percent of respondents to the survey said they reduced or eliminated services because there weren’t enough doctors. Here is a link to the PDF.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

- Here’s something to think about the next time you drive by Midtown Plaza. A study found rehabbing existing buildings is almost always more environmentally friendly than building new “green” ones.