TRENTON, January 14, 2014 — The New Jersey School Boards Association reacted positively to Gov. Chris Christie’s goal to extend the public school day and school year.  The Governor announced the plan during his annual State of the State address to the legislature this afternoon.

“For more than 30 years, research has shown that increased instructional time is a key to greater academic achievement,” said Dr. Lawrence S. Feinsod, NJSBA executive director. “As far back as 1983, the report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform, cited the correlation between gaps in student achievement and the length of the school year among the United States and other countries.”

Feinsod pointed out that the NJSBA is currently engaged in a study of student achievement, particularly the gap in performance among students of varying economic backgrounds.  “Our task force will recommend best practices and will undoubtedly consider those that involve increased student-teacher contact time,” he said.

Local school boards are aware of the importance and benefit of increased teacher-student contact time, according to Feinsod. The length of the school year and school day must be negotiated with their teacher unions.  NJSBA data show that, in 2011-2012, 14 percent of teacher contracts contained provisions for incremental increases in work time. Since then, the proportion of such provisions has grown, with 31 percent of 2013-2014 contracts calling for increased work time.

Currently, the average work year for New Jersey teachers is 185 days, inclusive of instructional days and in-service days, according to NJSBA.  The shortest teacher work year in the state is 181 days, and the longest is 191 days.

“We welcome the opportunity to share information with the Governor’s staff, the Department of Education and the legislature on this topic,” said Feinsod

The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 581 local boards of education and includes 81 charter school associate members. NJSBA provides training, advocacy and support to advance public education and promote the achievement of all students through effective governance.