School Board Unanimously Approves Longer School Year

UPDATED 03/28/12 – 5:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite complaints from teachers that it would lead to student burnout and decreased teacher morale, the Chicago Board of Education has unanimously approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to extend the school year by 10 days starting in the fall.

As CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey reports, the board unanimously approved the longer school year, which would eliminate days off on Pulaski Day and Columbus Day. The vote came shortly after 5 p.m., more than six hours after the start of the day’s meeting.

Board members did not discuss their decision after their vote.

The district has not yet shared how it plans to fund these changes, despite an expected $600 million to $700 million deficit next school year.

The Chicago Teachers Union had picketed outside the board’s offices Wednesday morning and union members spoke out against the plan during the public portion of the meeting.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the union argued that the new schedule would make the school year for Chicago Public Schools the longest in the country. Teachers also blasted the proposal to eliminate two holidays, saying the new schedule would force students to attend classes for nine consecutive weeks with no days off, other than weekends. They also said it would leave teachers little time to plan lessons.

“This calendar will lead to student burnout, teacher absences, poor academic performance, and a decrease in staff morale,” said Michael Benson, with the Chicago Teachers Union.

The calendar also shortens parent-teacher conferences.

Wednesday morning, teachers picketed outside the CPS Headquarters, 125 S. Clark St.

Some were still holding picket signs protesting against the longer school day that will come district-wide next school year. But now, members of the union say the school board is adding fuel to the fire, by now trying to extend the school calendar.

The teachers are particularly upset about what they say will be 10 lost planning days.

“So the board his this new calendar that they put in place, and all these new initiatives, yet there’s not enough time to talk about or plan these initiatives, so it’s incohesive. It doesn’t make any sense,” said teacher Danielle Juracka.

Teacher Ed Hershey is taking issue with the loss in parent-teacher conference time.

“We need t the time to talk to the parents, and I think you can’t do it halfway,” Hershey said. “I think it won’t be better for the students, and I think it will be a lot worse for the parents, because won’t have the time to sit with them, collaborate with them, have the discussions that we need to have.”

The proposal would also eliminate the days off now granted for Pulaski Day in March and Columbus Day in October.

“There’s no real input. What the mayor says goes,” Hershey said. “This is the only district like this in Illinois, where the mayor just gets to dictate everything on the school system.”

Last year, the union got into a public fight with the mayor and CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard, after the Chicago School Board canceled 4 percent pay raises that were part of the teachers’ contract.

The Teachers Union also took issue with plans for a longer school day, a cause that Emanuel and Brizard have championed since they took office.

The union was infuriated when Emanuel and Brizard urged schools to break ranks with the union and go ahead with the longer school day on their own. The schools that complied received an extra $150,000 in funding from CPS, and teachers at the schools received $1,250 bonuses and 2 percent raises.

The union then sought an injunction to block the longer day from taking effect this year. Teachers Union president Karen Lewis argued that Emanuel and Brizard violated the union’s contract by allowing some schools to break ranks.

However, on Wednesday, the union said it had reached an agreement with CPS to pay the teachers at those schools the same salary for this year that they will receive next school year, when a longer school day and school year go into effect.

“Today’s settlement is a great victory for collective bargaining in Chicago, and a step forward for the Chicago Public Schools,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “The longer school day will give CPS students the schools they deserve only if sufficient resources are devoted to making it work, including fair compensation for teachers. We have serious reservations whether CPS will devote sufficient resources system-wide to maintain reasonable class size, educate the whole child, provide robust wrap-around services, and provide quality facilities. But CPS makes its first good faith step in that direction today.”

The deal essentially guarantees teachers at the 13 schools already implementing a longer school day the same salary for 2011-12 that they will receive after CPS and the union reach a contract agreement for the 2012-13 school year.

The union estimated that would amount to $300,000 in back pay, or up to $1,500 for each teacher, in addition to the stipends they already received.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

Meantime, some parents have released a survey indicating that a slight majority of respondents believe the longer school day has proved detrimental to their children’s health and wellness.

Meanwhile the schools also face major financial challenges – without money, schools cannot run properly. CPS officials were expected to take time at the board meeting to discuss the $700 million budget deficit for next year.

One parent came to the meeting wanting to know how the district plans to fund the longer school day when it is so deep in debt.

“Parents are in support of a reasonable extension of the day, but we cannot fund a 7 1/2 hour day with when we have $700 million projected deficit. When you extend the day by 105 minutes, it needs to come with funding,” said Wendy Katten. “That’s having, like, education on the cheap, and it won’t work. We need quality for our children.

The deficit could top $1 billion by 2014, when the district will have to resume paying full pensions.

One proposed suggestion for savings would simply involve switching e-mail systems. If approved, the district would adopt Google apps for all employee e-mails.

The change would save more than $6 million over the next three years. Currently, school staff and administration use three different systems.

  • Roy Vegas

    If it can not be afforded, then someone on top needs to go to school and learn financial responsibility. Shocking!

  • Tunsiss

    I though CPS had financial problems; where is the $$ gonna come from?

    • stupid

      They will fire some teachers and squeeze 60 kids in one classroom for each grade in each school.

      • The Good Citizen

        Not Only is it STUPID stupid, THE KIDS WILL LEAVE THE SCHOOLS AT A LATER TIME, which Means–which the MAYOR never thinks or had care that IT IS NOT SAFE FOR THE KIDS TO WALK AT THAT TIME, SOME KIDS WALK HOME ALONE and WINTERS ARE DARKER DAYS. MAYOR, the kids need your support, don’t target the kids because teachers are picked on.

  • Jim

    Longer school year is beneficial for the kids so obviously the union is against it…they need to keep people stupid to allow their corruption to keep on rollin!

    • tmh

      The union is not against the longer school day, The union is against the way the longer school day is being presented. The decision has been made by the board against the wishes of parents AND teachers as to how the minutes should be spent Quality instruction is needed not quantity. Just adding minutes is not a benefit to the children, that’s babysitting. Actually taking time to give students a well-rounded eduation based on parents’ i and teachers’ nput is beneficial to the kids.

    • JoeP199

      If the teachers want to regain the respect of the community, they better start doing things that they may not like, but which will improve the kids’ education.

      • KC

        I’m a CPS teacher and I teach my students. You say teachers need to regain the respect of the community. Where’s the respect in making people work longer hours and not compensated them for it? How many honest, hard-working people will work for free? Would YOU?

      • Ralph M

        yea, it is called “teaching”.

    • saywhat3

      Your post proved the union’s strategy worked.

  • Marbear45

    The children need a break. The longer school day doesn’t allow them to enjoy extra-curricular activities such as sports, music lessons and other activities that will make them better rounded adults. The children need those days off to be kids and enjoy some recreational time. I don’t want my children to be burnt out and not be able to participate in activities because they spend so much time at school then come home after school only to do several hours of homework. When will there be time for family functions?

    • Money Talks, Laws Walk

      “Several hours of homework.”
      Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to sit outside and talk to the neighbors in the evenings during the week instead of shouting over all the kids music or tv, screaming and ‘mo-fo-ing’ at all hours in the street. Homework is the last things kids do. In my neighborhood those several hours must be between 11pm and 1am, because before that time they’re out running around acting like wild animals.

  • Jesse Sharpton

    Why are blacks 7 times more likely to commit a homicide than whites? Seriously, I’d really like to know.

    • Marbear45

      Lac k of family dynamics- no father in the household

      • THEE Yard Ape

        WRONG ANSWER!!!

    • wiseguy

      Because they are too busy selling drugs on the corners and they give up on life fastern being all burnt up on them too……

  • Kelly

    All day in some of these Chicago Public Schools is a break for some children. CPS is failing our children miserably. I am so sick of listening to these teachers whine and complain. Time has come for them to finally do something to earn their oversized pay checks. CPS is graduating children from 8th grade and high school that cannot even read or write. The Chicago Public Schools are in crisis and someone needs to take control immediately. Karen Lewis needs to keep her mouth shut and step aside immediately if she cares at all for children. She doesn’t appear to have a clue how bad many of the Chicago Public Schools are and how incompetent so many of the teachers are. Time for change is now. Chicago Public School students deserve so much better.

    • Marbear45

      What is the family dynamic in the schools that service? I bet parents are not involved and are not team players in their children’s education. I have 2 children that attend CPS and I am very involved in their education process. One of my children is special needs and the staff so appreciates that I work with her as many other children that they service do not have that support from home.

      If CPS is indeed breaking the law as you allege, than perhaps you can tell Pam Zecherman from CBS news to investigate it. Publicity will change things as well as politics.

      I applaud your work and thank you for being there for the children that you service.

    • saywhat3

      Kelly spend a few a days volunteering at an inner city school and get back to us about the experience.

      • Kelly

        I am a social worker and work extensively with the Chicago Public School system, as well as most of the vulnerable inner city communities within Chicago. The children and families I serve all attend CPS schools. I am in one of the schools or communities every single day and have been for years. Most of the CPS Schools are a joke. I am appauled on a daily basis about what occurs in these schools. Many people have no idea how bad it is, how poor the services being offered are and how much CPS violates the law in NOT providing needed services for children who qualify. IT should be a crime what they are doing and it is about time someone is held accountable. CPS from the top down is a hot mess.

  • John

    You work for about 8 months out of the year with various breaks in between. I go to work all year with a couple of holidays off. 10 extra days won’t kill you or the students. Get over it.

    • tmh

      It is not about the 10 days, you are right, it won’t kill anyone. The children will now have the longest school day, and the longest school year in the country. With no proof that it will work. It is about children being expected to sit for 7hours reading, writing, computing. I don’t know many adults that really work that long and hard, and these are CHILDREN, as young as 5 years old. That’s the way to get a child to love learning! How excited are you getting up every day to work so hard? And how many days to you take off in between?

    • retiredinAz1

      aaawwww John, here’s a tissue for your tears….you big cry-baby!

  • Eddie

    Your blue collar factory or white collar office job isn’t the same as having 27 or if CPS gets there way 34 + young minds in your class. Let me guess, why are you teachers whinning about 7 extra kids … I love it how it always seems to be people that don’t have a clue what it is to have children hanging over you for an entire work day. Most of you can’t handle your own kids for a day when they are off of school. Heck most of you can’t wait for summer or spring break to be over to send you kids to school. The majority of you parents fail as your role as the child’s first teacher and expect underpaid teachers to make miracles because you parents don’t spend time reviewing homework or reading a story. Let me guess you are the ideal parent. You and people that don’t have a clue (includes politicians) are the joke.

  • zatso

    There is a study that shows that 99 44/100% of a student’s failure in the educational system is due to lack of parental discipline, solid home environment, no working alarm clock, large screen TV’s, electronic games, iphones, nose and elbow phones, blueberry-blackberry-boysenberry phones, ugly and overpriced designer athletic shoes, and a nasty attitude.

    Along with this statistically deficient study, a recently published article in the Coelacanth Monthly provided in-depth collaboration between parent-pupil-teacher for providing 100% potential for dynamic improvement.

    Simply stated, it asked for the teacher to present age appropriate lessons, the child to go home and study his lessons for a proper amount of time and get assistance from the parent, and the parent is to see that the child studies and knows his assignment. Teacher will test and report results to child and parent.
    Failure of the student will result in summer school or repetition of the failed grade.

    Oh, and it said that EDUCATION begins at home and that the parent(s) should teach certain basics before the child starts school. Like discipline, compassion, phone numbers, colors,respect, proper attitude etc.

    It really stressed that the PARENT(S) are the important ingredient to EDUCATION.

    Excuse me, I’m going to go and look for those reports.


    • WetNurse

      zatso, you’ve hit the nail on the head again.

  • tom sharp

    When this fails (and it will) to raise test scores and improve the dropout rate in low -performing schools, will CPS set up bunk beds and student lounges for the ghetto punks and their do-nothing parents/guardians so they have no responsibility whatsoever?

    • THEE Yard Ape

      Spot on Mr Sharp. Failure is assured!!!


    5 periods in the classroom and 3 on prep. PREP means prep, that doesn’t at all allow you to run to Starbucks for a quad vanilla latte – you are supposed to be working, not leaving the place of work. Quit complaining you bunch of story tellers out of preassigned textbooks and curriculum. Just follow like the robots you should be. Verbatim the facts that you have just read the night before and dictate them back to your students. WOW you over paid bunch of babysitters quit whining already. For the love of god, my preschoolers are in class longer than any CPS student. What about the elementary school who pass on the buck of their students into HS w/ 5th grade reading levels and no knowledge of basic math! WE must now teach them remedial math? HS teacher salary teaching elementary work. GET OVER IT. Teaching is not a profession it’s a trade. IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT FLIP A BURGER!

    • retiredinAz1

      If YOU could teach, you would be in front of a group of children.

  • stupid

    Mr. Emanuel wants to educate more no brained kids so in future they will vote for him. He also wants to get the votes of those lazy parents who think that school should do everything for them.

  • Money Talks, Laws Walk

    They wasnt to do away with Columbus and Pulaski Days? To be fair shouldn’t Marvin Luther King Day also be cut? Probably more so because King Kong Day follows so close to the Christmas week off.
    If King Kong Day stays it is obviously a racial act of discrimination against the Polish and Italian people. Jesse, get you azz up here and protest this one.

    • me


    • retiredinAz1

      100% behind you on this one!

  • retiredinAz1

    Once again, the CPS is showing it will indeed stand up to the Union and pass what it wants to pass….and what is the Chicago Teacher’s Union doing? Picketing outside the Board! BIG DEAL! Picket all you want….that will not get action! Teachers Union needs to be forceful like it use to be….call a strike vote,…..close the city down with over 400,000 kids roaming the street….now things will get done! They have become a cluster of wimps!

    • xomaman

      WAIT, a strike is on the way!

  • bob

    This is easy to fund, it obama right hand man in charge. RAISE TAXES on the RICH

  • The Good Citizen

    The mayor doesn’t care if the kids come out late from school at these unsafe times, WINTERS getting darker and kids going home alone. Hello, CHICAGO MAYOR the kids need your support while you are picking on teachers.

  • Trayvon's gold teeth

    Trayvon wouldn’t have minded a longer school day, seeing as he was usually suspended anyways.

  • The Good Citizen

    Hello, this is about the kids future and no one else. Kids don’t need to spend all day long or after hours in school so teachers can babysit. This program is only good for working parents that don’t want to spend quality time with their children. And you wonder why there are news of kids in love and running away with teachers, getting violated. Well, sometimes they don’t have a family to go to. Mayor, why don’t YOU GO around the schools and ask the children what they mostly want.

  • The Good Citizen

    Let’s all think about all the children: news about children who been target of kidnapping or attempts even in daylight, so could you imagine the those longer days at school and a child walking home alone in a winter day. Think about it: Longer days in school and shorter days in winter, does not go together.

  • me

    Common sense tells us yes indeed crime rate will go up,drop out rates,absents in the classroom.The students are suppose to be the ones we care about and its ashame they are getting caught up in all the politics as has always been the case,Why didn’t they have a voice in all of this,oh because the Mayor and Jean-Claude Brizard know whats best,if the city is in such a finacial hole then where they getting all this money from,ohhh forgot the Mayor can lay off some more people and raise prices on everything he can find .Sice hes so,much for the working class,yeah right,, all in one breath and turn around and keep cutting jobs.With everything going up except the pay how in the world is anyone suppose to live?He says don’t move to the subburbs,I really think thats what he wants,for the hard working class especially low income to move ,well hes pushing them to it.Now how did it work out in New York while Jean-Claude Brizardrk was there,from what I have read they are so,happy hes not there anylonger.Since this is all in place now,we will all find out just how its all gonna work out or notttttttt!!!!

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