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Boston Proposes Longer Day for Elementary, Middle School Students

Students in 60 Boston elementary and middle schools could spend 40 more minutes each day in class under a tentative agreement between the city, the school district, and the district teachers' union, according to a release from the mayor's office.

The plan would roll out in 20 schools in fall 2015, and take effect at 20 more in each of the following two school years. Once fully implemented, the plan would cost the district about $12.5 million per year, with the gradual phase-in designed to blunt the impact on the district's annual budget.

"We know that when our students have more time to learn, they have a better chance of succeeding," Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a statement, adding that the plan could "strengthen our education system and help us close the achievement gap so we can give all of our young people the opportunity to succeed."

Under the agreement, teachers would be paid a roughly $4,500 annual stipend for their extra hours of work and would see the amount of time set aside for planning and training doubled. If the teachers union approves the proposal in mid-January, it would go before the Boston school board for a vote.

Teachers' union president Richard Stutman said in a statement that extending the school day will help students by "allowing for increased participation in a variety of under-served subject areas, such as art, music, drama and foreign language."

The proposal would eventually lead to longer school days for more than 20,000 students.

Districts around the country have been experimenting with extended days for years in part because research suggests that extending learning time can boost performance in struggling schools.

But long-running discussions about longer classroom hours for Boston students were derailed by long-standing acrimony between the city and district administrations and the teachers union, the Boston Globe reported.

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