Making Expanded Learning Time Financially Feasible

By Nora Fleming — November 03, 2011 2 min read
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The After School Corporation has just released a fiscal map and report to alert those interested in expanded learning time—or adding time to the school day, week, or year to help close the achievement gap between students—of the variety of funding streams available to support efforts to lengthen the school calendar.

According to the report, there are about 29 federal funding streams alone that can be used for expanded learning, in addition to a number of other public sources to tap. While the funding sources vary from public to private, so too does the distribution of those funds (one-time grants, renewable sources, etc.), and so do the recipients (states, districts, schools, intermediary organizations, community-based organizations).

TASC, based in New York City, uses examples from its own expanded learning elementary and middle schools to show how blended funding and community partnerships can make expanded learning financially feasible for districts if implemented thoughtfully. TASC’s model, using a combination of funding, providers, and resources, can cost $1,600 per student for an added 1,600 hours a year, it reports.

“This landscape creates both a diverse pool of funding sources and a complicated set of conditions for those who must develop ELT budgets,” the report says. "[In New York], school leaders and their community partners decide how to braid these myriad of funds together to create a seamless, community-responsive educational experience for students.”

TASC is currently working on a pilot project for expanded learning high schools, which will incorporate best practices from its existing ELT schools with new ideas for how added time can help older students specifically.

Also on the ELT front, the Wallace Foundation released a report today summarizing the major themes and discussions from its conference in May, “Reimagining the School Day: A Forum on More Time for Learning.” (Education Week gets funding from the Wallace Foundation to cover expanded and extended learning, as well as other topics.)

Some of these themes include exploring the definition of what “quality” time added or spent means for students, the impact the lack of sufficient time for learning can have, and what policies could help or hinder the push for added learning time as a reform strategy in today’s schools.

“Can we envision a system that is founded on high-quality opportunities for children? One that supports and tracks learning as it flows in and out of school that has classroom teachers and outside educators sharing goals, and accountability, for student learning?” the report asks, in light of the conference discussions.

The report also profiles several programs represented at the conference: the Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools, Cincinnati’s Fifth Quarter Program, TASC, School of One, and Building Better Educated Leaders for Life, or BELL.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.