Mayor Rahm Emanuel is continuing to push for lengthening the school day and year, and district officials say it’s a priority. They want to lengthen the school day in some manner this year.
District officials say that CPS students receive less instructional time than students in the country’s 10 largest cities and 15 percent less instruction time than the national average.
The teachers union though has disputed claims about the length of Chicago’s school day, and Lewis has maintained that she’s advocating for “a better school day” rather than a longer one. The union complained last week that while the mayor keeps talking about longer school days, no formal proposal has been presented to teachers—a complaint that may have triggered the discussion today.
“Engaging the CTU will be key as we want our teachers to be partners in this effort, and it is customary for both the CEO of CPS and president of the union to engage on a regular basis in private conversation about the issues facing the district where they may be able to build consensus,” said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll.
The union is currently in negotiations with the district over lost annual raises. While the district can bring up longer days in those discussions, the union is not obligated to talk about the issue.
But even if an agreement was reached, education experts say it would be difficult for CPS to start longer days district-wide by the beginning of the school year. Year-round schools began this week and regular track schools will start Sept. 6.
One available option may be pilot programs at various CPS schools starting mid-year in January.
District officials plan to convene a task force and advisory teams to help develop short- and long-term goals and plans on what a longer school day would look like. Schools that may be interested in starting a pilot program would first need a majority vote from teachers union members who are on staff.