GLOVERSVILLE – The Gloversville Enlarged School District has expanded the school day in an effort to help improve academic performance. Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will see their instructional day increase by 20 minutes, and those in sixth through twelfth grade by 16 minutes. Before the change, GESD had the shortest instructional day in the region.
In previous years, district elementary schools began at 9:05 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. Going forward, the elementary schools will take attendance at 8:40 a.m. Dismissal will remain at 3 p.m.
School days at the middle school previously began at 7:55 a.m. This year, instructional time will begin at 7:40 a.m. Dismissal will move from 2:25 p.m. to 2:27 p.m.
Finally, school days at the high school, which previously ran 7:45 a.m. to 2:20 p.m., will now be from 7:40 a.m. to 2:21 p.m.
The primary motivation in the extension, the school’s superintendent said, is to address academic progress. GESD has struggled with a low graduation rate for years. As of the 2021-22 school year, the district had a 73% graduation rate, according to the New York State Education Department data site.
“We aren’t going to settle for three out of ten students not graduating high school,” Superintendent David Halloran said.
Underperformance on state testing was also a motivating factor. In the 2021-22 school year, 72% of students at Gloversville High School tested “Proficient” on the English Language Arts Regents exam. For Algebra I, that number drops to 37%.
The high school utilizes a period system to break up the school day. There are eight periods that prior to the upcoming school year, were 40 minutes. Going forward, each period will be 42 minutes.
The extension was made possible due to the district settling a labor contract with the Gloversville Teachers’ Association.
“They [the teachers] recognized the district had a priority and justification in wanting to expand the school day,” Halloran said. “Their contract passed overwhelmingly.”
The extension of instructional time will cut into time previously set aside for professional development, that Halloran said was not “utilized as envisioned.”
A number of socio-economic factors contribute to these struggles, Halloran said.
One of these factors is transportation. Chronic absenteeism is an issue in GESD. District officials are taking a number of steps to get students in the door.
The school is paying the city of Gloversville to supplement bus routes provided by HFM BOCES in order to help students who may not qualify for school bus pick up and drop off.
“Not everyone has a vehicle,” Halloran said.
The district has also assembled “street teams,” groups of district officials that go door to door in the community in order to re-engage with families with attendance issues.
The district is also invigorating academic programs, including adding a reading series for elementary schoolers and implementing a program to assist younger students in adjusting to schooling after the pandemic.
“We’re excited,” Halloran said. “We have lots of good things in motion.”