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August 11, 2020


Students in the After School Connection at Post Road Elementary School in White Plains sponsored a community service sewing project of blankets and pillows created for the residents and children receiving services at My Sisters Place. Photo Credit: Courtesey of White Plains Youth Bureau, City of White Plains
U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, D-Calif., proposed federal legislation that would extend the school day to 10 hours. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

'Family Friendly' After-School Care Eliminates Need For Longer School Day In White Plains

Would a 10-hour school day fly in Westchester? Unlikely. A robust menu of after-school programs already exists across the county's cities, towns and villages -- either at the schools or sponsored by non-profit organizations and municipalities.

Daily Voice Plus examined its impact on the White Plains School District, -- the fifth largest in the county serving more than 7,000 students in nine schools including five elementary schools. 

Superintendent Joseph Ricca was asked about legislation proposed by presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris, a Democrat from California, to enact the Family Friendly Schools Act. The plan would provide funding to elementary schools that serve low-income families. Schools would stay open during the entire workday throughout the school year -- and to enrich summer learning programs.

Ten hours is a long day for children,"Ricca said, noting many considerations, from the nature of "high quality activities." The extended period would include, how to negotiate transportation contracts, would a "third meal" (dinner) be provided, and how to pay the staff.

 "You have to consider the socio-economic impact. It's not necessarily a good idea just to extend the school day to 10 hours," said Ricca. 

Staffed by district employees, the schools' the city district's after-school program "focuses on academic advancement and enrichment. There are also additional enrichment programs, including the STEAM Academy, run through the White Plains Youth Bureau, available to our students." There are no additional costs associated with the programming, said Ricca. The Youth Bureau offerings are staffed by its own and district employees.

Ricca said he though "some communities" might benefit from school schedules aligned with a work day. "You cannot paint them all with the same brush. You would want to make sure you're providing a high-quality experience."

The White Plains students, according to Ricca, enjoy "academic extension and support opportunities" while the programming is "fun and engaging."