Chicago Schools: First Day Of Classes For 'Track E' Students

08/08/2011 02:33 pm ET | Updated Oct 08, 2011

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was at William Rainey Harper High School in the South Side's West Englewood neighborhood Monday morning. At 8 a.m. sharp, Brizard rang the bell, and with that, 247 schools around the city were back in session.

The so-called "Track E" schools run on a different schedule than the rest of Chicago's public schools. Students begin on the second Monday in August, and have three "inter-session" breaks throughout the year: two weeks off in October, three weeks in December, and another two weeks in the spring.

Track E schools aren't in session any longer than any other traditional CPS schools, though, and Brizard addressed that fact in remarks at Harper High on Monday, according to FOX Chicago.

He and Mayor Emanuel have repeatedly said that they plan on making the school day and school year longer in Chicago. But because of a sharp budget shortfall, they were apparently unable to fund such an expansion this year -- in fact, by cutting after-school programming, the new budget will essentially make the day shorter for many students.

NBC Chicago reports that faith leaders from Pastors United for Chicago were planning a rally to demand the additional classroom time. Brizard said it "pains him" that the budget crisis is preventing him from making the change, FOX adds.

Approximately 115,000 students are enrolled at the city's 247 Track E schools, an ABC report writes.

But they're actually not the first Chicago public schoolers to be back in the classroom. Students at several charter schools, including the UNO schools and the LEARN charters, began school last Monday. Those schools do have longer school years, WBEZ reports: UNO students are in session 20 more days than traditional CPS schools, and LEARN kids have 27 more days.

Longer days don't necessarily correlate to higher performance, though, WBEZ adds, citing an analysis of 2010 test score data.

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