I agree that CPS schools should have a longer day - anywhere from 75 to 90 minutes more makes sense and keeps us in line with most suburban public schools. I also think school should start one week earlier. Most summer camps and programs end three weeks before CPS schools start. I do not think school should end any later than it currently does. As it is, with it ending in the middle of June, most camp programs and summer jobs start the first day of the next week. If CPS goes longer, kids that want to compete with suburban kids for summer jobs or want to attend summer camps that are not strictly for Chicago students will be out of luck. That makes no sense. CPS could also have less days off during the year. Look at November and February, teacher institute days, etc.
Allow each school to determine how to best use the extra time to meet the needs of their student body. There are vast differences between students from one school and another and "on size fits all" makes no sense here or anywhere else in CPS. Some schools need more time for the basics because their students are struggling and could benefit from alternative methods of learning a certain subject or more hands-on experiences to drive the point home. Other schools are doing well in those areas and the kids could benefit from extra PE, music or technology.
No matter what, all closed campus schools need to use that extra time for a longer lunch so students are not gobbling down their food. The current amount of time is crazy. Trust the teachers to make the right decisions about how to use the time.
If the concern about starting school one week early has to do with lack of air conditioning, money should be spent to put in at least some air conditioning at each school (maybe not central, but enough to have some cooling go throughout the buildings). Money for things like this and other improvements to the school and classroom supplies would benefit students and teachers. Since most teachers say they use their own money to buy supplies, offer them supplies for their classrooms rather than more take home pay.
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