Forty schools across Chicago that signed on to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's longer school day initiative earlier this year greeted students returning from winter break Monday with an extra 90 minutes of instruction.
CPS schools Melody Elementary and Mays Academy join 38 charter schools across the city that agreed to begin a longer school day in January, debuting new schedules this week that include extra time for reading, social studies, fitness classes or recess and new character development lessons, the Chicago Tribune reports. The CPS schools lengthening school days this week will have $75,000 in incentive funds to help occupy the extra time with meaningful instruction, and the charter schools making similar schedule adjustments were also extended monetary incentives for starting early.
At Mays Academy, 300 students from kindergarten through eighth grade will now have class for 7 and a half hours, where previously they only had 5 hours and 45 minutes of scheduled class time, ABC 7 Chicago reports.
"We are used to being here for a long school day because we are a community school, but now we can put that extra 90 minutes directly [into] academics," Patricia McCann-Nichols, the school's principal, told ABC.
Emanuel's campaign to lengthen school days and classroom time has been hotly contested by the Chicago Teachers Union, who filed an unfair labor complaint in the fall. But many schools were swayed by the lump sum discretionary funding offered as an incentive to switch to the pilot program, which awarded schools either $150,000 or $75,000 based on when the schedule change was implemented.
CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has vowed to implement longer school days and a lengthened school year at all Chicago schools by next year. The longer schedule was already implemented at 11 schools across the district.