An East Garfield Park School is among three in the Chicago Public Schools system that will be extending its daytime hours by 90 minutes come January 2012.
Genevieve Melody Elementary School, 412 S. Keeler, agreed to sign waivers opting out of the teachers union contract, reports the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times. Skinner North and STEM Magnet schools are the other two that signed on.
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 Tribune. “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.
According to the Tribune, 75 percent of Melody’s teachers approved the change.
STEM Academy on the Near West Side is a new CPS school, and, according to its principal, the Chicago teacher’s union attempted to stop the school from voting for an extended day.
Principal Maria McManus recalled that a union representative tried to intimidate her staff before they voted.
“I guess I’m not upset with the union for doing their job,” McManus said. “I just don’t think the union should be upset with me for doing mine.”
Chicago Journal editor Ben Meyerson contributed to this report.