Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced on July 30 that the bell schedules of 82 high schools and elementary schools will change by at least an hour in order to save money. The district, which is facing a $1.1 billion operating deficit, said the move is part of a general consolidation of bus services that it anticipates will save $13.5 million next year.
“Every dollar we save by staggering school bell times and streamlining transportation services next school year is one more dollar we don’t have to cut from our classrooms,” noted new CPS CEO Forrest Claypool in a statement.
“No matter how grave our financial challenges are, we are committed to our students’ learning and their safety. We will continue to work with principals and parents to minimize disruptions and protect in-school time, as well as develop a comprehensive plan to address after-school activities.”
According to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis, a total of 12 schools “are shifting 75 minutes at arrival and dismissal times […] that will begin in September at 7:45 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Overall at CPS, schools will now begin as early as 7:30 a.m. and end as late as 4:30 p.m.”
West Side schools that will undergo bell changes include Austin Business and Entrepreneurship High School, Austin Polytechnical Academy, Clark High School, Douglass High School, Marshall High School, Melody Elementary, Prosser High School, Steinmetz College Prep High School and Voise High School.
While most CPS schools will hew to 2014-15 bell times, most CPS high schools “will see their start moved to 9 a.m. beginning on the first day of school, September 8. Elementary schools affected by the change will start earlier to align with new bus schedules,” CPS notes, adding that it anticipates to save $2.6 million by reducing bus monitors as a result of the bus consolidation.
According to the school district, “Chicago is one of a handful of major districts in the country that doesn’t stagger its elementary and high school start times; as a result, the average cost for CPS to transport a student is more than triple the median cost for districts with more than 100,000 students, with CPS paying an average of $4,450 per student and other districts paying $1,250, according to the most recent data from the Council of Great City Schools.”
A full listing of schools affected by the 2015-16 bell changes is below: