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Chicago Public Schools Longer School Day Guidelines Include Mandatory Recess (VIDEO)

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Recess will be mandatory at Chicago Public Schools elementary schools in the 2012-2013 academic year, according to guidelines unveiled by the district Monday.
Recess will be mandatory at Chicago Public Schools elementary schools in the 2012-2013 academic year, according to guidelines unveiled by the district Monday.

Chicago Public Schools on Monday laid out details of what a longer school day will entail when it is instituted district-wide with the start of the new academic year this fall.

In its guidelines, outlined in a 25-page book, CPS advised principals that recess will be mandatory for all elementary school students, ABC Chicago reports. CPS worked with the VIVA Project to shape its recess proposal for the district.

"Recess is a key part of the full day and studies show that having time for recess not only promotes lifelong habits of healthy living, but also increases the likelihood of a student's success in the classroom," CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said in a statement announcing that mandatory recess was coming down the pike.

(Scroll down to watch a report on the new CPS guidelines.)

As of last fall, only 42 percent of the district's schools had any recess at all and a mere 15 percent of schools held recess outdoors.

Further, elementary school students will be spending more time on core instructional areas over the course of their new 7.5-hour-long day. That includes, depending on students' grade level, between 90 and 120 minutes on reading and writing, 60 and 80 minutes on math and between 40 and 60 minutes on science.

The plan includes six-and-a-half hours of instructional time, compared to an average of five hours and 45 minutes at most public schools currently, according to NBC Chicago.

Elementary school teachers will also have more prep time -- up to 60 minutes per day from 32 minutes, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Arts and physical education were combined with both intervention and accelerated classes, which all entail between 90 and 140 minutes per day, dependent on grade level.

Thirteen CPS schools and 37 charters have already implemented the longer day at their schools, though their early adoption of the plan arrived in the midst of a heated battle between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union, which accused the city of coercing teachers to approve the longer day.

Commenting on the guidelines, CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey said they have not seen a commitment to hiring the staff that will be needed to carry out the district's expectations. The union recently began to negotiate for higher pay in exchange for their longer work day.

"In my opinion it would be completely reasonable to ask for more pay for a longer day," Sharkey told the Sun-Times.

The union on Friday submitted its list of demands to CPS, kicking off what is expected to be a long period of contract negotiations, the Chicago Tribune reports. The union opted to keep most details of the negotiations private, for now, but compensation, class size and professional development days are expected to be up for discussion.

"While we cannot negotiate contract proposals and details in the news media, we can share with you the fact that we will be advocating for the practices, support and resources which our neighborhood schools need and which our students deserve," CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement.

"We look forward to honest dialogue with CPS and a productive conclusion to negotiations and to beginning the school year on time this fall," Lewis continued.

The Chicago News Cooperative reported last week that CPS's push for the longer school day has not come without a hefty price tag. The district, six months after pointing to a $712 million budget deficit as the reason it rescinded contractually-obligated 4 percent raises for its teachers, has spent nearly $10 million worth of financial incentives and grants for schools that have implemented the day earlier than required.

WATCH a report on CPS's guidelines for the longer day:

Around the Web

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