Longer School Day info from CPS Task Force

On Tuesday, December 13th, CPS’s Longer School Day Advisory committee meeting held it’s third meeting. Raise Your Hand has a seat at this table and we felt it was important to share recent information and key dates with you our membership.

CPS has instructed schools to engage parent, teacher and community input when creating a draft schedule for fall 2012. There are many unanswered questions regarding the longer school day and in our opinion,  the three pivotal unknowns are: (1) budget (both from the state and how CPS allocates funds); (2) negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union; (3) implementation and leadership skills at the individual school level.  Regardless of these unknowns, CPS is looking for schools to move forward in creating a draft schedule based on a 7.5 hour day.  Schools should be determining how many extra positions they would need to make their schedule work for their school. Once drafted, the schools will need to communicate their specific needs to CPS. 
This is the time to advocate for your children, for your school. Regardless of how long the day ends up being extended, where should additional time be spent?  One way to solicit parent feedback is through surveys. We will be sharing a sample survey on our website.  Your school’s Local School Council, Parent Advisory Committee (for schools with Title I funds) and Bilingual Advisory Committee are good places to discuss the process of parent input at your school.
CPS plans on launching an informational longer school day website shortly and we will add links to this on the RYH website when it becomes available.  Throughout all of the Longer School Day committee meetings, RYH has urged CPS to provide as much transparency and information sharing as possible so CPS parents have meaningful opportunities for input.  
Process Overview and Timeline
Below is an overview of the process and some key dates.  In short, each school principal, with support from Network Chiefs and CPS, is responsible for leading each school community through these big changes from planning to implementation.

Nov              Network Chiefs (formerly Chief Area Officers or CAOs) attend several training sessions conducted by CPS and National Center for Time and Learning regarding the longer school day planning parameters, strategies for integrating the longer school day and best practices from districts across the US.


Dec              Network Chiefs lead area schools through the process; CPS is providing principal training and webinars on focused topics for implementation such as scheduling, learning strategies, etc.  Training will be ongoing through the process.


Dec/Jan      Principals work to complete the Longer School Day Planning Template.  This is a document that is going to require a lot of work to complete, yet should provide extensive detail and require all schools to thoroughly think through the longer day impacts to staff, scheduling, school resources, facilities and central office resources to name a few.


 Jan/Feb      Schools are supposed to receive the first draft of school budgets to incorporate into plans before the February 10th due date listed below.  One of the primary responsibilities of each school’s LSC is to create a SIPPPA plan. The longer school day planning process is supposed to flow into the school SIPAAA planning process.  We have no further details at this point.


Feb              February 10th Schools Submit DRAFT version of the Longer School Day Plan Template to Networks.  Over next several months, Networks review and revise with individual schools.  Then Networks submit and review with Chief Education Office.  


May             May 25th Schools submit their FINAL Longer School Day Plan Template to Networks.


Summer     CPS/CTU contract up end of June 


Sept             September 4th 2012 – First Day of School

Parent Input Time is NOW!
Now is the time for parents to provide input into the longer school day.  If you want gym more than once a week, art, music, more science, technology, social studies, enhanced interventions for acceleration/assistance, more math, more reading and/or recess.  SPEAK UP NOW!  We have no idea what, if anything, will be funded, but we encourage you to voice your opinions an concerns to your school.

Section from the CPS Longer School Day Template:
Longer School Day Team
Principals should convene a Longer School Day team to help them:
·         Engage the school community, including school staff, parents, and students.
·         Create a redesigned school day schedule that addresses school goals and rethinks the school day.
·         Prepare the school community for implementation of the redesigned Longer School Day.
(The Committee at your school should be representative and include:)
·         Teachers representatives from each of the grade spans (i.e. Primary, Middle, Upper)
·         Teacher representatives for special student population (i.e. special education, English Language Learners)
·         Teacher representatives from enrichment subjects
·         Non-teacher staff (i.e. scheduler, case managers, counselors, etc.)
·         LSC member(s) and or student(s)


Q:  What about my Park District classes?
A: The Park District representatives have indicated that they will adjust programming times and schedules to the new bell schedules of the communities they serve. 
Q: Will my child have a longer day and just as much homework?
A: CPS indicated that they will be revising the homework policy in response to the longer school day.  CPS also indicated that they will be soliciting parent input on homework policy revisions.  In addition, several of the pilot schools have successfully adjusted their homework schedules as part of implementing a longer school day. 
Q: Will High School bus pass times be adjusted to account for the longer day and after school clubs/sports? 
A: CPS has been made aware of this issue by High School students from the Mikva Challenge. 
Q: We don’t have a music teacher (or art teacher or gym teacher or language teacher), yet we want to add music.  What do we do?
A: We are not sure if there will be any funds available for additional positions.   We encourage you to detail the need for music, art, PE, etc.  in your plans and alert your Network Chief of your additional staffing needs. 
Q: Who is going to supervise the students during recess?
A:  This will vary school by school. Your principal may be able to generate a schedule for coverage with your current staff.  We hope that CPS can provide additional funding specifically for recess supervision.  If your school needs more positions to cover recess suprevision, it is crucial that they include this in their plan so CPS has the information. We need to make sure that CPS is aware of all of the resources that will be required to make an extended day possible.
Q: Who will determine the start and end times for school?
A: CPS says they  will look at transportation and security issues to guide the start and end times for schools.  We are unsure at this point how much flexibility there will be regarding start/end time.
Q: Really? Does the school day have to be 7.5 hours long?
A:  While Raise Your Hand supports a school day that is longer than 5 hours and 45 minutes, by and large our members do not think it should be 7.5 hours long. But, meaningful community discussions and input can happen in schools, first around the content that each learning community wishes it could have to improve academic and social emotional development, develop a “wishlist” of resources along with various schemes for timing.  If length of the day is a concern, make sure to voice it to your school community.  We do not know if there will be accommodations for different schedules next year, but we encourage you to voice all concerns to your school now.

Many school districts that have moved to an extended day, FYI, have moved only a small portion of their district to this schedule to start. We still believe it will be very difficult for CPS to adequately resource a 7.5 hour day properly, but principals  have been asked to complete draft schedules, and it is important to make sure your voice is heard in any potential change that may take place at your school. IF CPS does not have the funds to provide resources and meet staffing needs for this schedule, they should adapt to whatever funding scenario exists by spring/summer. Unfortunately, we may not know the real schedule for next year until this summer.