Principal Al Solomon used his Principal’s Report to the Budlong Local School Council Tuesday to criticize the Chicago Public Schools push for a longer school day telling the council there was a lack of coordination and information coming from the central office about the topic.
Most CPS schools will add 90 minutes to their schedule starting with the 2012-3 school year. The plan for an extended school day was a central feature of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education plan and also of CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.
“The Longer School Day Pioneer Program is built on a simple fact – Chicago Public School students spend 15% less time in the classroom than the average American public school student,” according to the CPS web site It is a fact that is disputed.
Solomon started by noting the school had a refugee position that is filled. But the school has not received funding for the position for six weeks, he noted.
Then he noted that Budlong has been reporting truancy of five days and ten days as required, but has discovered that there isn’t a truancy office at the CPS central office.
“Support departments such as Truancy and Refugee are not being funded,” he noted.
Which brought him to the extended school day.
“The plan for the extended day is to use if for recess and lunch,” Solomon said.
“Where is more educational time?” Solomon asked.
Solomon pointed to webinars presented by CPS that extolled the extended day in other districts without giving guidance on how to use the new time in CPS. The webinars lack specifics he said.
What is the plan for the older CPS building, such as Budlong, that lack adequate indoor facilities for recess during inclement weather, Solomon asked.
Budlong was originally constructed in 1907, with additions in 1913, 1955 and 1996, according to the Chicago Public Schools. Its age actually puts it on the younger half of the scale of age for area public school buildings. McPherson, built in 1888, is considered the oldest school building in the area. However it has had a substantial addition to its facilities.
The most recent building in the neighborhood is Courtenay, built in 1949.
Adequate indoor facilities to accomodate recess requirements is a concern for many area schools. However Solomon is the first to address the issue in a public manner.
Solomon said the extended day will have the following effects:
- Student day extended by 90 minutes.
- School year extended by 10 additional days (two weeks).
- Students will receive a 45 minute lunch/ recess each day.
- Teachers will receive longer lunch periods.
- Teachers will work 60 additional minutes on class preparation each day (this will take the place of early morning preparation).
Transparency Note: Jane Rickard, a Welles Park Bulldog founder, is a CPS employee and member of the Chicago Teachers Union. She works at Budlong and other schools. Rickard is married to the writer, Patrick Boylan.