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CPS CEO Proposes 2013-2014 School Calendar

To give credit where credit is due, this seems like a much more reasonable calendar than we’ve seen in past years.  It seems that parent and teacher concerns have actually been taken into consideration when scheduling holidays and professional development.  Let’s hope that this is a sign that Barbara Byrd-Bennett really is a bit different than her predecessors and is listening to people in the communities instead of just the mayor’s office.

 

As we move ahead into the second semester of a new year, we know our families are anxious to find out what lies ahead for next year’s academic calendar. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has been working collaboratively with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to build a new, single calendar for school year 2013-2014 and we are excited to share the newly designed calendar with you.
 
This proposed calendar does away with the District’s two-track schedule and gives all students the same start and end dates and days off.  The new unified calendar also provides a balance of uninterrupted student learning days and reflects input gathered from parents, students, teachers and principals in order for families to easily plan work, childcare and vacation schedules.

To design the calendar, representatives from CPS and CTU discussed parameters and CPS launched an online survey to gain your feedback on what you would like the calendar to look like.  More than 13,000 parents, students, teachers and principals completed our survey and the results were invaluable.

Some highlights from the survey results include:

  • ·         First Day of School: 51 percent of parents and students and 80 percent of teachers preferred a calendar that started sometime in August. All students will now begin school before Labor Day on August 26, 2013. In the past, Track E schools started in early August, while Track R schools began the day after Labor Day.
  • ·         Three-Day Thanksgiving Holiday: Many stakeholders responded that they wanted a fall break. The best way to offer a fall break with minimal disruption to student learning was to lengthen the Thanksgiving holiday, accommodating travel plans and allowing more time with family. In SY 13-14, schools will be closed for three days during the week of Thanksgiving starting Wednesday, November 27, 2013.
  • ·         Removal of Half Days: 62 percent of parents and students and 61 percent of teachers preferred that professional development occur on full days of non-student attendance instead of half days. To make planning easier for work and childcare, there are no scheduled half days in the SY 13-14 calendar.

In addition to aligning all schools with start and end dates as well as vacation time, a unified calendar will allow for far better planning among principals, teachers and families and support a better structure for implementing a more rigorous curriculum and supports for students in need.

More specific changes to the new calendar include:

  • ·         First and Last Days of School: The first day of school for all students will be August 26, 2013 and the last day of school will be June 10, 2014.
  • ·         Holidays: Schools will be closed to observe Labor Day, September 2, 2013, Columbus Day, October 14, 2013, Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2013, Thanksgiving, November 27-29, 2013, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 20, 2014, Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, 2014 and Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.
  • ·         Parent-Teacher Conferences: Formerly known as Report Card Pick-Up, Parent Teacher Conferences will occur on the same day for elementary and high school students and will occur on November 12 and April 7. Parent-Teacher Conferences are days of non-student attendance.
  • ·         Winter Break: December 23, 2013 to January 3, 2014.
  • ·         Spring Break: Schools will be closed for Spring Break from April 14 to April 18, 2014.

The proposed calendar is being released today, but will go before the Chicago Board of Education for approval on Wednesday, January 23. 

I would like to thank all of our parents and our stakeholders for taking the time to complete our online survey. Your feedback was central to the design of the new calendar. Attached is a copy of the new single-track calendar for school year 2013-2014. We look forward to beginning the next school year together, on one unified calendar.

 
Sincerely,

Barbara Byrd-Bennett
CEO, Chicago Public Schools

There are signs of progress regarding the relationship between the new CEO and members of the public to be found here.  I only hope that they continue.

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