Austin school to have longer day starting in January

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Genevieve Melody Elementary School, 412 S. Keeler Ave., is one of three schools in Chicago that will be extending its school day by 90 minutes, starting in January.

Teachers at Melody – and Skinner North and STEM Magnet –  agreed to sign waivers opting out of the teachers union contract, the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times reported this week.

The teachers will get one-time bonuses equal to roughly 2 percent of the average district salary, and the schools that implement the longer days starting this month (Skinner and Stem) will receive $150,000 in discretionary funds. Melody will receive $75,000 because the longer day doesn’t start for another four months. The money can be used for improving classroom instruction but not to augment teachers’ salaries, CPS officials told the Chicago Tribune.

Officials with the Chicago Teachers Union — surprised by the action — reacted with outrage. Vice President Jesse Sharkey said CPS was being “unbelievably arrogant” in pushing the waivers, in effect circumventing the collective-bargaining process.

“This is the kind of policy that says we’re going to ignore all that, pretend that it doesn’t exist, and go directly to anyone they can,” he told the Chicago Tribune’s Joel Hood. “I’m flabbergasted.”

The default schedule for the new school day will be 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., although schools have flexibility to determine start and end times, the district said. The schools no longer will be allowed to dismiss students earlier by pushing teacher lunch periods to the end of the day, however. Student recess and lunch periods are built into the days as well.

To read the rest of the Tribune story, click here. (The Tribune reported today that 75 percent of Melody’s teachers approved the change.)

Here’s what the Chicago Sun-Times reported.


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