By Robin Rieger

LUMBERTON, N. J. (CBS) – Students leave Maple Shade High School Wednesday following over five hours of classroom instruction. School starts after Labor Day and ends mid June for summer break, completing the state mandated 180 day calendar.

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But what if the school day and school year were extended to increase students’ academic performance?

“I wouldn’t want to even though I know it would help,” says Marissa Charles of Lumberton.

A new bill proposes a three year pilot program to give 25 state school districts, with parents and staff on board, that option. It passed the senate education committee and gets a passing grade from maple shade assistant superintendent Joseph Langowski.

“I think it’s a creative idea,” says Langowski.

Langowski says many students here suffer from what he calls the summer slide. And we’re not talking about a piece of playground equipment.

“We give them a benchmark in September and they’re at a lower level than when they exited in June,” he explains.

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He says a two week remedial reading camp for struggling kindergarten students that occurs before the school year begins is already showing progress

“The students can come in about even with their peers,” Langowski says.

And he says a program for certain students that extends the school day by one hour twice a week has reduced some deficiencies.

“I can say that we’ve gone from, I believe, over 30 percent in math in some areas to below 20 percent,” says Langowski.

Jeanne Charles thinks her children would benefit.

“Academically schools could extend another month and even really concentrate on mathematics and reading,” said Charles of Lumberton.

Corporate donations in exchange for tax credits would fund the program if passed. The bill now heads to the senate budget and appropriations committee.

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