Sachem Superintendent James Nolan said he was going to stay positive, but was "guarded" by Governor Andrew Cuomo's suggestion to extend the academic school year or lengthen school days, if it is intended to be a "quick fix."
"I don't think there's a cure, or remedy, or quick fix to any educational problem," Nolan said in an interview with Patch. Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address encompassed educational issues all across the entire state. "I can't compare my own children to one another, so I can't see how anyone can compare inner city schools to rural schools, to suburban schools, to schools in higher economic areas, to schools in lower economic areas..."
Nolan said Cuomo's "broad brush" with which he paints the challenges in education is difficult to abide by, and ignores the role demographics play from school to school. In some cases, longer school years might be beneficial, but in others it may not be necessary, Nolan said.
"Do some students need more time? Absolutely. But I'm not sure that school [extensions] will solve anything, and I'd like to know what we're solving."
Nolan added that the district is continually open to suggestions and ways to improve. "But I'm somewhat guarded when people have a quick solution."
Additionally, Cuomo's suggestion would have a significant and immediate impact on labor negotiations, salary increases, and increased expenditures for the buildings. Calls for comment to John Troise, president of the teachers union at Sachem, were not returned. However, Nolan examined the cost and was puzzled by Cuomo's committment to fully fund any changes to the academic calendar. Namely, he was curious to know that if Cuomo had funds to cover these initiatives, why aren't those funds available immediately for current budget shortfalls?
"We're struggling right now," Nolan said. Currently the district has a roughly $20 million budget gap for 2013-14. "I'm just a little curious about that. If the state is willing to fund the resources for [Cuomo's ideas], fantastic. But we're begging for that right now."