UPDATE: A day after CTU President Karen Lewis shut the door on a whole scale extending of the school day this year, teachers at three schools voted to keep students in class for 90 more minutes.

UPDATE: A day after CTU President Karen Lewis shut the door on a whole scale extending of the school day this year, teachers at three schools voted to keep students in class for 90 more minutes.
In exchange, CPS reportedly promised each teacher an extra $1,250. Two schools, Skinner North and the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math magnet school, will start the longer school year next week and get $150,000 per school to ensure a smooth transition, according to WBEZ. The third, Melody Elementary, will start in January and get $75,000. 
The union had encouraged their members to vote against the longer-day waiver and, upon the votes, filed an unfair labor practice grievance. In a statement, union officials said that principals were forcing teachers to take the vote and were pressured to approve the measures. Also, the extras teachers were offered amounted to a “form of coercion and a violation of the Agreement and Board Policy,” according to a union statement.          
WBEZ quoted CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll saying that it was the teachers’ idea to take the vote. 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard have been pushing the issue of extending the school day hard, saying that the current length is criminal. But Skinner North in Old Town does not and STEM nestled in the Near West Side most likely will not serve the low-income students for whom experts say extending the school day is most important. 
Melody, a neighborhood school on the West Side, is on probation and is low-achieving. The CPS statement did not say if other schools were offered the incentives, took votes on extending the school day and rejected it.
It is unclear what CPS leaders would do if teachers at all 482 CPS elementary schools voted to extend the school day. On top of 2 percent raises for teachers, giving each school an additional $150,000 would cost an additional $72.3 million—money CPS doesn’t have. 
CPS board members just passed a super-tight budget that was only balanced by huge programmatic and administrative cuts and pulling money out of the reserves.
But convincing teachers to sign waivers was the only option left to CPS officials. 
This Spring, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 7, which allows district officials to unilaterally extend the school day. However, the amount of teaching time is spelled out in the teachers’ contract and CPS leaders need to wait for the contract to open to change it.
The current contract runs out in June 2012. 
CPS leaders would have liked to get the union to open it earlier by terminating the current contract. This summer, CPS officials set the stage for this to happen. In June, CPS board members voted to rescind 4 percent promised contractual raises to unionized workers, including teachers. The unions immediately asked to negotiate over the issue of raises.
In the midst of negotiations, Brizard recently offered elementary school teachers a 2 percent raise in exchange for taking on a longer school day in January, an offer Lewis swiftly rejected. 
What’s more, Lewis said last week that Chicago teachers do not plan to strike or reopen their contract with CPS. This likely closed off any possibility of the school day being lengthened this year across the district. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.