While Gov. Chris Christie supports the idea of a longer school day and expanded school calendar for students, he clarified Thursday that the concept is aimed only at underperforming schools.

David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

During a town hall meeting in Sayreville, Christie was asked by a Sayreville War Memorial High School student about his proposed pilot program to extend the school day and year. Christie said, while New Jersey has some of the highest achieving students, it also has some of the lowest. He believes an expanded calendar for struggling districts would help close that gap.

"My proposal is not that every school in New Jersey has a longer school day, which I've been desperately trying to explain to my own children, but it was that schools that were underperforming should have a longer school day and a longer school year," Christie said.

He assured the sophomore that not only would she graduate before any proposed changes get implemented, but also that districts like Sayreville would not be affected.

"We're talking about Newark, Jersey City, Camden, Trenton, Paterson," Christie said, "school districts that have been consistently and repeatedly failing students and their families."

Christie said that much more is spent per student in underperforming districts, even though students are graduating -- or in many cases, not graduating -- without receiving a proper education.

"What we have found with those students who are achieving at a lower level is, the only way to have them achieving at a higher level is to keep them in school longer," the governor said.

One of the biggest struggles underperforming schools face, according to Christie, is that they are located in poorer areas, often where parents have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet and are unable to help children with assignments.

Christie said keeping children later gives them more opportunity to review concepts and get extra help, adding that a similar program has already worked in other parts of the state.

"If you look at public charter schools in Newark, most of them only have off the month of August, and what are we finding in these schools? That they're doing better every year," Christie said.