Please answer the official CPS survey about a unified school calendar

December 19, 2012 at 11:50 am 133 comments

CPS is looking to have one unified calendar which makes sense.  And doesn’t make sense.  Doing “what’s best” in a giant district can be difficult.  I haven’t gone through the whole survey yet since I need to dig up my son’s student ID number (is there a non-painless tattoo they could put on the kids?)   At some point do they lay out what the 2 full calendar options are?  I see in question 8 they’re offering the choice of a 2-week winter break plus 3 other one-week breaks.  But they don’t also specify that this would likely include a shorter summer break, correct?  Are the choices Track E or Track R? Or some possibly new combination?

If you have a preference, what is it?  I’m curious to see what people think about it.  I fully acknowledge that a 3 month summer break likely sets kids back in term of learning, but it’s hard to let go of that institution for some reason. I feel like as adults we so rarely get a nice chunk of time away from work – why start pushing this continuous working/learning ethic on our kids?

4. I prefer a school calendar that:

Starts in mid-August and ends in late May/Early June
Starts in late August and ends in mid-June
Starts in September – after Labor Day and ends in Mid June/Late June
No preference
Other (please specify)
5. Teacher professional development days are required to take place throughout the school year. Students are not in school on these days. Do you prefer full-day teacher professional development days or half-day professional development days? (Please choose one)
All full days
All half days
A mixture of half days and full days
No preference
Intersessions are vacation breaks during the school year during which schools may offer activities for students who need extra academic support and/or enrichment. If CPS were to incorporate any intersessions, they would be one week long, excluding the winter holiday, which is two weeks. Please share your thoughts below on when the one-week intersession(s) should take place:
6. The school calendar should only include a winter holiday break of two weeks and an April break of one week.
Strongly Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly Disagree
7. The school calendar should include two one-week intersessions (in October and April) plus the winter holiday of two weeks.
Strongly Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly Disagree
8. The school calendar should include three one-week intersessions (in October, February and April) plus the winter holiday of two weeks.
Strongly Agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly Disagree

Survey Links: CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union have begun developing a unified school calendar for the 2013-2014 school year. This calendar will eliminate multiple track schedules, giving students across the District the same start and end dates and days off. This will be of great benefit to families who currently have students enrolled in both Track E and Track R schools. In order to fully engage the community on the development of the new calendar, we are asking parents and students for their feedback so that what results is a unified schedule that is in the best interest of all CPS families.

Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey to help inform our decisions as we work to develop a single-track calendar that is in the best interest of our children. Please complete the survey by January 11, 2013. Click here for the survey in English. Click here for the survey in Polish. Click here for the survey in Spanish. Click here for the survey in Chinese.

Note: You must input your child’s student ID number in order to complete the survey. Your child’s student ID number can be found on all CPS progress reports and student report cards or by visiting the Manage Students page in the CPS Parent Portal accessible through Parents of high school students can also find their student’s ID number on their child’s identification card. If parents are unable to find their child’s ID number, your principal can provide you with that information.

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133 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rachel K  |  December 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I completed the survey a couple of days ago. My preference is to have a shorter summer (it’s only a couple of weeks) and shorter vacation periods. My son attends a charter that started the beginning of Aug, he missed the strike and had no other interruptions other than the 1 week Fall intersession and now a 2 week Christmas. His grades are great, he is in a routine and is thriving.
    Continuous learning isn’t a crime. Most kids I know (including those with financially strapped parents) have plenty of outside interests to balance.

  • 2. Smadness  |  December 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I like the traditional school calendar. Winter break and spring break. Plus, what parents can arrange for child care for weeks at a time during off times ? My daughter started school this year in August and I HATED it. It was hot and very much still felt like we had a lot if summer to go and she was already back in school. For us it’s also the time (late Aug) that we typically go in vaca since camps are done and they have a break before school starts.

  • 3. cps alum  |  December 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Since my child doesn’t start school until 2013-2014 I have absolutely no say in the calendar. Kindergarteners in the 2013-2014 school year will live with the new calendar the longest, but we have not say since we don’t have ID #s.

    Anyway… I would prefer a calendar that is in line with suburban districts. Start late August end early June. I absolutely do not want to start in early August…. If they want to shorten the summer I hope it will be by ending later in June rather than starting earlier in August. Early August is usually much hotter than early mid-June and CPS is still largely without air-conditioning. Also, why not let the kids enjoy nice summer weather when it is summer.

  • 4. 60660  |  December 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Does anyone *like* the half days?

    This year (track R) there are 178 “instructional days” but 181 “days of attendance”. I’d like those two numbers be the same. I suspect that kids are losing days off so CPS can have a higher headine number
    I’m dismayed at the prospect of sending my kids back to school in August (which school admin has told us to plan for next year). Perhaps going back from September 1st would make a difference when Labor day is late in the month?

    In Ireland primary schools (up to 6th grade) run roughly September 1st to the end of June – 183 days. Secondary schools (7th-12th grade) run September 1st to the end of May -167 days. In addition to 2 weeks at Christmas and 1 week at Easter there are “midterm breaks”. A week off around Halloween and a few days off around Valentine’s Day break up the terms nicely.

  • 5. SutherlandParent  |  December 19, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    @60660, when I filled out the survey, I used the comment section to expand upon my dislike of the half days 🙂 For my kids, at least, the entire day seems like it’s being wasted. I don’t think they are keeping a laser-like focus on the mornings when they get out at 12:15.

    I know this wasn’t part of the survey, but I think the kids should be in school more days than they are. As in, significantly more. In theory, I love the idea of the long, lazy summers. But in practice, so many kids seem to lose way too much over the course of three months. It seems like they spend the first month of school doing refresher work on the exact things they were studying before school let out. Eight weeks would be plenty.

    Of course, I know it’s not feasible without huge infrastructure upgrades (like air-conditioning in every school) and pay raises for CPS employees.

  • 6. One teacher's perspective  |  December 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Half-days are a terrible waste! They are bad for students: it is too short to accomplish meaningful instruction/learning in most classes; students are not as focused; and attendance (at least in high schools) tends to be poorer. For teachers, there are the above frustrations plus the fact that what ends up being about 2.5 hours of professional development time is not nearly enough to accomplish anything. Most principals have so much to cover that attempting to squeeze several items into the half day is futile. These days are by far the most tiring for teachers and with little to show for it. FULL days of instruction and FULL days of professional development are far superior to the half-day model now being implemented by the district for other-than-educational reasons. PLEASE vote to eliminate the half days!

  • 7. maman  |  December 19, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I wouldn’t mind a shortened summer break, but I hate the thought of the kids in hot classrooms. How can they focus when they are most likely very uncomfortable?

  • 8. Mayfair Dad  |  December 19, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Prediction: CPS will do whatever the hell they want to do regardless of the outcome of the survey. Have a nice day 🙂

  • 9. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Havent they all along #8~MFD? Fake community engagement,0,4037886.story

  • 10. EdgewaterMom  |  December 19, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I wonder if they will publish the results of the survey.

  • 11. WorkingParent  |  December 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I wish that I could answer the survey, but I can’t since my child won’t enter CPS til 2013. Unless a school has a/c, Aug is a terrible month to start school. We’d have to hope for no Aug heat wave. Two months is plenty for summer break, and there should be minimal days off during the year. Half days seem like a joke. My preschooler goes to a full-day year-round school. I don’t wish that for CPS. I mention it, only because I think kids could handle more days than they have. I went to a non-CPS school where I had more/longer days. It did not ruin my life.

  • 12. Paul  |  December 19, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    I agree with SutherlandParent. I think the summers are too long and the kids need more full days in school. I think the calendar should more more toward a year-round model with a shorter summer break and a new Fall break. And, I think professional development days should take place during those breaks. Teachers, in my opinion, should work closer to a year-round schedule, so professional development isn’t crammed into the regular school calendar and with the long Summer is off. Lots of teachers spend part of their Summer break preparing for school, just like lots of teachers spend time after school and on weekends working, and I think they should both get credit for that time worked and be required to do so.

  • 13. CarolA  |  December 19, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I think the vast majority of teachers would agree that half-days are a complete waste. We had them several years ago and got rid of them for a reason! CPS keeps stepping back in time without thinking about the reason we changed direction. I also think that the summer is too long. I like the idea of a modified year-round calendar. However, it would be necessary to provide a/c which seems unlikely. I don’t know much about building maintenance, but it would seem to me that maintaining these old, old buildings would be much more costly than knocking them down and rebuilding semi-solar buildings over the long-haul. It might be a slow process, but it needs to start. My classroom is an electrical nightmare and surely a fire hazard. These buildings were built before all this technology. There’s only one 4-plug outlet on each wall of the room. I have a Promethean board, 2 printers, 3 CD players, 3 desktop computers, 2 fans, and a partridge in a pear tree! LOL

  • 14. anonymouse teacher\  |  December 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    @8, agree.
    @12, agree, mostly.
    @ Carol, (breakfast was fun the other day!), agree! If we had AC, there’d be a lot of playing around with the schedule that would be good for all.

  • 15. mom of 2  |  December 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    I voted against the half days in my survey! All that effort to get my children to school for them not to even have all of their classes is ridiculous! I prefer the full day of professional development and put them on Fridays or Mondays for a little break for parents and kids. I prefer the traditional calendar (Track R) but I just want all schools to be on the same track because next school year I will have a grade schooler & a high schooler. and didn’t want the headache of two different tracks. Yes, Mayfair dad CPS will do whatever they want and the calendar is a formality. I heard the new calendar was going to be a hybrid between Track R & E. Maybe starting at the end of August and have a couple of one week intercessions and keeping xmas break at two weeks.

  • 16. mom of 2  |  December 19, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Oops I meant the survey is a formality!

  • 17. Just another parent  |  December 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    I also commented about the half days. I would really like to see a week off in October and some other breaks. I think that kids would be better rested. I also think it would be weird for the first year, but once we got used to it, it would be OK.

  • 18. Katie  |  December 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    Wish community members/ parents of young children could weigh in… These decisions will impact us too!

  • 19. ZanesDad  |  December 20, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Half days are ridiculous. So is having school until mid/late June – does anything of substance really get accomplished after Memorial Day?

    I personally wouldn’t mind starting in late August but good luck getting a lot of parents in this city to send their kids before Labor Day.

    Not that any of this matters, as a number of you have said.

  • 20. CarolA  |  December 20, 2012 at 7:33 am

    Years ago, CPS slowly (one year at a time) inched up the calendar so that the students started in August. Result: Half the classes were empty until after Labor Day due to many students being out of the country (mainly to Mexico and Poland) until September. After a couple of years of that, they switched back to students starting after Labor Day. Don’t know if we’d still have that same problem or not these days. Then again, we experience the same problem in June with children leaving early. The difference is that there’s a lot to miss in August/September and not quite as much in June. Like anything…weigh the pros and cons.

    Katie: I wish teachers would could weigh in. So far, I haven’t heard anything. Maybe we’ll get something from the union, but I’m not convince my voice will be heard either.

  • 21. anotherchicagoparent  |  December 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    After researching and finding this
    It is going to be very hard to persuade me to to send my children or anybodies children to school in early August WITHOUT air conditioning.This story is written two weeks before track E starts. poor kids.I do believe this is the year we had an unusual late heat wave in August too.CPS has already given their reasoning behind lack of air conditioning. Some school buildings over 100 years old.It would cost 2 billion dollars. They went onto ask, “Does anyone have 2 billion dollars”.
    Parents funded and tried getting ceiling fans installed on the upper level of our school but old wiring stopped the installation.We have had many excessive heat warnings in past couple of years. Only one snow day(s) in 12 years.

  • 22. Lasalledad  |  December 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    My wife put the following in the comments section of the survey.

    Weather considerations alone, most schools DO NOT have air conditioning, and we CAN NOT afford to put them in every school, continuing the regular track so kids can have a summer break, get exercise while the weather is nice is key.
    Working parents have difficulty getting time off numerous weeks per year, and most of us can not afford the pricey camps or asking family to travel numerous times a year to help support schools being closed. Having a longer summer break and standing Spring and Winter breaks helps us all plan and get the best prices for family breaks and utilizing a consistent approach to support our kids vs all of the changes over the last couple of years. We are confusing them, like we can not make a decision….

  • 23. Esthervanwick  |  December 21, 2012 at 2:00 am

    I hate having to have my child’s ID just to do a survey. I get on the computer at midnight, when my child is asleep…god knows where that number is. Why do they need it and can’t they just know his name or school? And why can’t they put window ac units in the classrooms. Those units are not expensive. Heck, I’d buy one for my son’s classroom. I love the idea of half days. It can be a little more of a relaxed day…maybe a show and tell day, art day, wear green day, whatever…however, I think these days should be on fridays so parents can use the afternoon to maybe go on a short weekend getaway.

  • 24. SoxSideIrish4  |  December 21, 2012 at 3:32 am

    I agree #23~Esthervanwick~I think either the half or whole days for pd should be on Fridays so families can go away.

  • 25. CarolA  |  December 21, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I have offered to buy my own a/c for my classroom and was told the electrical system would not be able to handle it. I know of some rooms that have them in schools, but it’s my impression that if everyone had one, the system wouldn’t be able to handle it. Similar to the technology problem we are having now. In my building, the system cannot handle 30 children on laptops at the same time as others in the building are using the internet. Crazy, but realistic. Just think about when these buildings were built! My dad graduated from Bridge Elementary School on the northwest side and he was born in 1916!

  • 26. Jeff Newman (@jpn)  |  December 21, 2012 at 8:37 am

    “…a non-painless tattoo…”

    It’s called a “regular” tattoo. 😉

  • 27. HS Mom  |  December 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

    @23 your student ID is in your parent portal child information if you are set up.

  • 28. 48 kids to a classroom!  |  December 21, 2012 at 8:05 pm,0,653119.story
    This editorial states that CPS said if the state doesn’y pick up the cost of pensions then next school year class sizes will be 48 & 4000 teachers will be fired! Yikes! I am a state employee & I can tell you the state IS BROKE so that ain’t happening!

  • 29. North Center Mom  |  December 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    @23 and @25, heating and cooling a school is different than heating and cooling a home. They have different code requirements. A school classroom requires a certain percentage of fresh air intake at each room. That is why most classrooms have a unit against an outside wall that allows in fresh air, 2 pipes for heating, and if you’re outside of Chicago, 2 pipes for cooling. Air conditioning requires a large amount of electricity and if you remember from Physics, condensation is produced which must be piped away. It is possible to cool public spaces with forced air units. It is an expensive project for a large school system with old buildings.

  • 30. CarolA  |  December 22, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Thanks for the info @29

  • 31. Esmom  |  December 22, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    My kids are middle school age now and I have to say the “old school” summer works for us. They work so hard during the school year, between academics, sports and music, that a nice long summer really helps them relax and recharge for the next year.

    They are not completely idle, of course. But a nice balance of unstructured time to goof off with friends or hang out at the pool (and a week to 10 days away on vacation if possible) and structured time, like sports and music camps, works so well for them. They do a summer reading program and for the past couple years their school’s teachers have sent home packets of math homework to do, so I’m not sure how far they slide academically.

    I’ve come to believe that the big chunk of down time they get in the summer allows them to be better, more focused students when school is actually in session.

  • 32. Anon  |  December 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I have a child in a TBPK program, so I’m lucky in that I’m one of the few parents with a young child who was able to complete the survey. I really like waiting until September to start school, and am completely against the half-days – it seems like they’re constant, since three full PD days translates to 6 half-days. It creates a complete nightmare for working parents.

  • 33. cps alum  |  December 24, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Since we are talking calendar I thought some might be interested in this article from the Wall Street Journal. It talks about the economic impact of early school starts.

  • 34. cps alum  |  December 24, 2012 at 9:32 am

    And if you are intersted… a 23 page report/study detailing the impact in South Carolina. I never thought about how school start date could impact the economy… but reading these articles/reports makes me think about how such a simple decision can really have big consequences for everyone.

  • 35. local  |  December 24, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I’d like to see a study about the emotional and social development impact on children and youth (across all demographics) of a school schedule with mini-summer breaks. (Not in favor of them, btw.)

  • 36. anonymouse teacher  |  December 24, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I thought the piece on Alabama was interesting as they noted the costs of cooling buildings. In Chicago, there isn’t any such concern and kids and staff just have to deal with excessive heat, sometimes for weeks, into the 100 degree range, regardless of health issues.

    I am remembering when I worked in a building with open asbestos coming out in flakes from the pipes coming out of the walls. I wish I had taken pictures of that one because I would contact a lawyer and sue the crap out of them now. But I was young and stupid then and didn’t know any better.

  • 37. SR  |  December 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    @cps alum – Those articles are interesting, but the states talk about the loss of tourist revenue in August specifically. Wouldn’t there be a corresponding increase of tourist revenue in Oct. or Feb. or whenever the mini-breaks are scheduled? The reference to the Iowa law was especially interesting because I grew up there and don’t remember any schools that started in Sept. (though we did get out in late May/early June).

  • 38. cps alum  |  December 25, 2012 at 2:38 am

    @SR– I don’t know, but the Alabama piece showed how there was a big drop in August occupancy rates in August, but there wasn’t as dramatic/corresponding increase in late May/early June. I would suppose that certain areas would not see the increase in Oct./Feb. because those months are not “in season”. For example, Michigan would do tons of business in the hot summer months but I wouldn’t see too many people renting lake houses in February.

    I really don’t know much about the issue, but I remember ready the WSJ article earlier this year and I thought it was interesting. I never thought about it before but it makes perfect sense.

  • 39. Donna  |  December 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    @28 The editorial is very disturbing. But here are my questions:

    Is it even possible to have so many children in one room? The classrooms I have seen can barely hold the 30 or so children they have, let alone almost 50. I would also imagine this would cause huge problems with the fire department and safety issues.

    How can CPS create another 5 cabinet positions, all paying upwards of $150,000 when they are in a financial crisis? And who created the “Office of Innovation and Incubation?” This is something that Chicago schools need right now? The majority of these new people have come from another FAILING system.

    CPS seemed to spend a very strange amount of time at the last board meeting discussing charters. Why are charters so important to CPS right now?

    Just some thoughts.

  • 40. CPS Parent  |  December 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    39. Donna – The short answer – there are students and families who care about education and there are those who don’t give a hoot. Charters allow those who care to be in the same classroom without those who don’t (and who would disrupt learning for all). It’s an easy, no additional cost solution and it can be implemented immediately.

  • 41. Cake for all!!  |  December 27, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    So you are saying families that go to neighborhood schools do not care about education? False.

    Charters aren’t easy and are an additional cost.

    I think Donna is saying why doesn’t CPS address needs of all children instead of spending money on useless positions.

  • 42. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 9:13 am

    41. Cake for all!! Because it is not possible to serve all children with a one school solution without doubling what is spent per student. Charters are the equivalent of the private school option for those parents (and students) who care about education but are too poor to afford private schools. Charters are a cost effective solution because they are cheaper to operate than neighborhood schools. CPS spends less per pupil on charter schools. The more charter schools there are the more CPS can spend on neighborhood schools where more of the wrap around and social services are needed. This is why public education policy makers across the political spectrum favor the charter school model – school choice and cost efficiency.

    Waiting until the tax paying voters double the amount that flows to CPS is not viable. Parents in poor neighborhoods need solutions NOW. Note that this is strictly an urban, poverty driven issue; well-to-do suburbs do not need charter schools.

    regarding the new hires – a few more (or less) positions at Clark street is meaningless relative to the total CPS budget. Have you considered the extravagance of $125,000 a year principals at half empty schools with 300 students? That is essentially a part time job. Multiply times 50-80 schools; 6 to 10 million a year just in savings from superfluous principals. Now start adding custodians, engineers, heat and electricity, etc, etc.

  • 43. cpsobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 11:52 am

    @CPS Parent – that’s an interesting take! I never thought about it that way — charters leaving more money for the other services in neighborhood schools. That kinda makes sense! All very good, interesting points you make.

  • 44. IBobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    CPO, I don’t share the optimism that the money supposedly saved by expanding Charters (huh?) will actually be used for neighborhood schools or for education at all. Look at what happened with TIFs in this city.

  • 45. cpsobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    @IBO: so you think that if cps can cut the budget by saving $ on charters that will lead to further cuts to the cps budget?
    Also, I seriously cannot get my head around the TIF stuff. If you can explain in a nutshell….
    Basically you’re saying that the money is used for things other than schools? Supposedly the same is happening with the lotto money, correct?

    Basically we can’t win…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 46. IBobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    TIFs -an oversimplified, but good enough working definition-A portion of the property taxes in a designated area are funneled into a special fund to be used for infrastructure and development of economically depressed areas.

    There are several TIFs in my neighborhood. Where are the subsidized daycare centers or afterschool community centers for low income working parents? Don’t have any.

    Where are the cooperative housing bldgs for middle income people who cannot afford to buy homes, would never be approved for a mortgage? There aren’t any. shows who received the benefits from

  • 47. IBobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm



    No cooperative housing which would help stabilize the area and give middle income families a leg up. However. these corporations received TIF funds. •Hyatt Hotel Hyde Park -$5,200,000 [Download the development plan – Harper_Court-Hyatt_CDC]
    •K-Mart -$3,700,000
    •Quaker Oats -$13,000,000
    •Union Station Health Club -$3,200,000
    •Block 37 developers -$12,000,000
    •Chicago Symphony -$2,500,000
    •Sears -$13,700,000
    •United Airlines -$32,000,000
    •Rush Medical Center -$75,000,000
    •Loyola University -$20,400,000
    •Sara Lee -$5,000,000
    •Wrigley -$15,000,000
    •Home Depot -$8,000,000
    •Keebler – $2,000,000
    •Jewel/Osco – $9,600,000
    •Target -$9,900,000
    •UPS – $11,300,000
    •Wilson Yard developer -$54,200,000
    •Grossinger Auto – $8,500,000

  • 48. donna  |  December 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    If the charters were outperforming the neighborhoods schools, I would say this would be great. But they aren’t. Charters are not going to solve the budget crisis, nor are they fixing the educational crisis.

  • 49. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    The main purpose for TIFF funding is to create jobs. Who cares about high school graduation rates if there aren’t jobs? If you are set on improving education you must simultaneously focus on job creation. You don’t need a H.S. diploma in order to qualify for public aid.

  • 50. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    48. donna Parents in the neighborhoods where charters exist don’t care about standardized test results they just want their kids to be away from the gangbangers-in-training who make learning impossible for the other kids. CPS can’t fix the urban poverty but it can help families who are willing to put in effort to educate their children by providing choice. Yes, the bad apples will be concentrated in the “neighborhood” schools but that is where you can concentrate the wrap-around and social services.

    In addition I would propose doing away with boundaries for “neighborhood” schools (the LA school district which has similar urban poverty problems has attempted this city-wide already). If the Lincoln Park schools are open to Englewood kids you can be sure that the clouted Lincoln Park parents will make sure money flows to Englewood schools so that those kids stay there.

  • 51. IBobsessed  |  December 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    @49 Did 20 million to Loyola U create jobs in Edgewater? I don’t think so. How does the city get away with giving tax money to a religiously affiliated private school? (And FWIW, I was raised Catholic and I am a Loyola alum) Grossinger Auto? Seriously? Not exactly a major job creator.

  • 52. Sped Mom  |  December 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    “Yes, the bad apples will be concentrated in the “neighborhood” schools but that is where you can concentrate the wrap-around and social services.” These support services don’t happen much.

  • 53. Sped Mom  |  December 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    “If the Lincoln Park schools are open to Englewood kids you can be sure that the clouted Lincoln Park parents will make sure money flows to Englewood schools so that those kids stay there.” Ah, no.

  • 54. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    51. IBobsessed Loyola University – Cafeteria workers, janitors, security staff, administrative assistants, custodians, engineers, landscape crews, painters, plumbers, electricians,all the restaurant workers near the campus, delivery drivers for the trucks that deliver stuff, etc, etc, etc. I don’t care if Loyola is Christian or whatever – jobs are jobs and these are the types of jobs that HS graduates can do.

  • 55. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    53. Sped Mom there isn’t enough money to distribute these services to all schools. When “neighborhood” schools are 25% of the total (I hope that is the target) they can receive the bulk of that money.

  • 56. anonymouse teacher  |  December 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    @42, I don’t agree with you that 125K for a principal with 300 kids is a part time job. If anything, a school with 500 kids and one principal should be making 200K. My principals both easily put in 80-100 hours per week (with 40-50 during breaks and summers). They earn every penny. It is a horrible job.

  • 57. Cake for all!!  |  December 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I work at a neighborhood school, and I have had students leave my classroom because they got into a charter school.

    It is funny because about half return back to my classroom.

    The teachers at charters are young, inexperienced teachers that are looking to get into CPS to make a decent salary but are stuck in charters until they get enough experience to go somewhere else.

  • 58. CPS Parent  |  December 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    53. Sped Mom Remember when Rev. Meeks took the bus loads of kids to New Trier to register? He should have taken them to Hawthorne for the same effect. If Englewood kids had equal access to Lincoln Park schools the disparity in school quality would disappear very quickly. Our elected Mayor (or Board if you think that is a good idea) would make sure or they would never be re-elected)

    Chicago is one of the most “ghetto-ised” cities in the country – eliminating all school boundaries would help ameliorate that situation.

  • 59. HS Mom  |  December 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    @51 – Grossinger was instumental in developing that whole area whose businesses were kind of stuck in Limbo at that location. Also the Whole Foods move. Makes a huge difference in the whole business district and has attracted more – Target etc. :Isn’t that the idea behind TIF

  • 60. Sped Mom  |  December 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    @ 55. CPS Parent

    It’s not uncommon, but I believe you do not understand IDEA 2004. See here if you’d like to background yourself:

    Or perhaps you’d like to reestablish special educational institutions for people with disabilities to keep them away from normal children and youth? Can you see where your solution leads?

  • 61. Sped Mom  |  December 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    @ 55. CPS Parent

    And here is just a glimpse of how those support services are delivered — or not:

  • 62. CPS Parent  |  December 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    61. Sped Mom My mention of wrap-around and social services is not in the context of SPED students and their needs. That is a different issue. My context is family and student support to remediate and offset the effects of poverty, poor parenting skills, poor language skills, lack of home supervision, lack of day-care for siblings etc, etc.

    I don’t know much about SPED issues but I do see the value of the LRE approach. I can however see the possibility of SPED parents CHOOSING certain schools over others because of expertise in their students issues at a specific school. Isn’t that how CPS has set up the SEHS SPED programs?

  • 63. RL Julia  |  December 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    @58 -CPS Parent -actually in theory (but not practice)CPS has open admissions – you are assigned to a neighborhood school but can attend any school you wish…. provided they have room for you/accept you. Obviously it doesn’t play out that way but thanks to NCLB and etc…. there is choice – except that most everyone doesn’t like the choices that they are given….

  • 64. Sped Mom  |  December 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    “SEHS SPED programs?”

    You mean the self-contained sped programs for TBI, sever autism, deaf, etc., housed AT but not OF the SEHSs?

  • 65. Sped Mom  |  December 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Make that “severe.”

  • 66. CPS Parent  |  December 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Yes, I am familiar with one of those via a fundraising efforts that I’m involved with. It seems to be a great program. By being housed AT one of the SEHS’s I think there are significant benefits for the students.

  • 67. Sped Mom  |  December 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    Ah, if only all our kids could be at an SEHS.

  • 68. DZV  |  December 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    CPS did ask teachers to way in. It was in the December 17th news letter we get in our CPS email. Read through and there is a link to take the survey!!

  • 69. DZV  |  December 30, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    OOPS…I mean weigh in!

  • 70. IB obsessed  |  December 31, 2012 at 11:35 am

    CPS parent -re Loyola U getting TIFs-Loyola was already in the neighborhood, and already expanding (with little to no community input) and creating jobs, so its not like the city had to give them $20M. Where they gonna go, ? It would have been fitting if some of that 20M were used for scholarships for Rogers Park/Edgewater CPS students.

  • 71. MSS  |  December 31, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    June is nearly pointless, especially w state testing now happening in early march. Get rid of half days and make most PD an option for those that need or want it . Teachers and Ss start 3rd wk aug and done 1st week of June. Laws of thermodynamics and electricity prevent window units as an option for older buildings. I’m surprised CPS is asking for input, and I hope most of the hot days are school free. A day off in Aug is worth more to me than one in oct or April.

  • 72. anonymouse teacher  |  December 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I still don’t understand why state testing doesn’t happen at the end of May or the beginning of June. I know CPS is now mandating that schools have a plan for after testing, meaning, we should essentially be starting next year’s curriculum right after testing ends, so we get a truer year to year snapshot. (this is starting in math for jr. high kids)
    Retention decisions aside (the main reason I’ve heard for March scheduling), I am of the opinion that state tests don’t provide educators with useful information that can be used well to drive instruction (NWEA for 3rd and up *might* be an exception. I am vehemently opposed to NWEA’s for 2nd on down) so why not just have tests in June if we have to have them?

  • 73. Anon  |  December 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    CPS parent. As a neighborhood school mom and a Lincoln Park mom at that I am angered at your stereotypes. We LP parents are the “clouted” ones? How about all the aldermen’s kids who always end up in the LaSalles and Hawthornes of the world?

    We CHOSE a neighborhood school so that our kids could go to school with their neighbors. It builds community tremendously — whether in Lincoln Park or Englewood, BTW.

    Oh. And the “Englewood” kids? Are they actually getting into the magnets? I don’t think so. Why is HAwthorne getting more and more homogeneous every year? Why is Edison less that 5% low-income?

    Believe it or not, there are still people who believe in neighborhood schools and choose them over magnets, SEs and private.

    Neighborhood schools in ANY neighborhood are very diverse.

    If Chicago were to get rid of neighborhood schools, I am going to the burbs.

  • 74. CPS Parent  |  December 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    73. Anon – Bye bye!

  • 75. TEACHER4321  |  January 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Where did you get the original links to the calendar. Are they on the CPS website?

  • 76. SEN  |  January 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    My job just posted vacations requests for April till November of 2013. I have to have my request in by Jan. 19th. Does anyone know if there will be a 2013-2014 CPS calender by then? My guess is no way, no how.

  • 77. CarolA  |  January 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    In my 24+ years in CPS they have never had the next school year calendar available before April and usually not until late May.

  • 78. SEN  |  January 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Thank you Carol A. You would hope with such a different calender next year they could get it out earlier.

  • 79. anonymouse teacher  |  January 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    SEN, not a chance. Schools aren’t even going to know if they have a preschool for all approval or not until March (and that means June/July if you know CPS).

  • 80. sad teacher  |  January 6, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Its funny when our school converted to Track E…we were told that this schedule would be almost like a miracle. It would raise our test scores. No I guess it isn’t the miracle it was supposed to be. We were also told the same about universal breakfast.

    Has anyone read the press released at CPS.EDU….

    I swear the more I read them the more I think CPS get’s its PR training from North Korea. Honestly, it is the strangest form of Propaganda I have ever seen. They live in some weird bizzaro world.

  • 81. anonymous  |  January 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Um. ..does anybody know what happened to the survey? My daughter went to fill it out. We tried to access it both from this link and directly from the CPS site. The link now takes you to survey monkey, where you must complete an intrusive profile to continue. . .and then still no access to the survey. I thought the survey was available until January 11th.

  • 82. Steve Timble  |  January 8, 2013 at 12:22 am


    I just filled out the survey and very much appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on the length and timing of the CPS schedule as well as those super-stupid half-day/institute days. Clearly I’m not the only parent who complained about half days.

    I really, really hope that CPS preserves or enhances Track R. I view Summer as a time for families to live and learn together and we use this time to travel, see family, play little league, attend camps and get close to nature. I can’t imagine childhood without Summer Break.

    If you value Summer Break please fill out the survey. If you value Summer Break and your child doesn’t have an ID number, please respond directly to CPS. Try sending Ms. Byrd an e-mail. Or your principle. Or both.

    Help save Summer Break! Your kid’s memories are counting on you!


    Logan Dad

  • 83. AE  |  January 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I heard that CPS would be voting on the calendar issue at the January board meeting. Has anyone else heard this?? I was also told by a CPS school administrator that it seemed as though the board was leaning towards a track E (possibly modified) calendar. Personally, I’m not favor…

  • 84. cpsobsessed  |  January 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Update on Facebook from Jennifer McDermott Biggs, the awesome note-taker for RYH. Sounds like they’re working through some options for the calendar — possibly a bit of a hybrid of Tracks R and E. Survey said that parents preferred R but teachers may have preferred E.

  • 85. Jill  |  January 13, 2013 at 1:47 am

    One of the most confusing things in Jennie’s report is Spring Break at the end of April. Does anyone else find a break so close to the end of school seem to be ill conceived timing? What is the rationale for this? The same rationale which gave us three half days post-strike?

  • 86. cpsemployee  |  January 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

    When I first began teaching in the late 80’s, spring break was always the 3rd week of April. Then, around 10-15 years ago it got switched to always being the week before Easter. This was to get around the high volume of subs that were often needed on Good Friday because many teachers took a religious holiday.

  • 87. Falconergrad  |  January 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    If you want to have fun with the current CPS calendar go here:

    Check either of the Track calendars, Key Events, and Student Days off to see if there is school on February 1st. Check all three.

  • 88. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 14, 2013 at 3:54 am

    #87~thanks FG for the fun~yes, it is a day off but you can NEVER trust the CPS officials or calendar!!

  • 89. Falconergrad  |  January 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

    So if you did not have time to check all three of the “calendars” on the CPS website, my point is that they all say something different about Feb 1st. Calendar says no school, it is NOT listed in student days off, and the key events lists it as a half day.

    I didn’t really have trouble believing teachers when they described some of the craziness that goes on at central office, etc. but this kinda blows my mind.

  • 90. LR  |  January 14, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    8/26 is fine as a start date, but I won’t be sending my kids to school if it is 90 or above. Also, I would prefer to not add days to the calendar. June is useless. ISATS are done, weather is nice, days are longer, kids have mentally left the building, it’s nothing but parties, picnics, etc. If I find my kids need a break in February, we will just take a couple days.

    Not sure how I feel about Spring Break ALWAYS being the 3rd week of April. It is kind of late, but take that break out and then you go from conferences on April 7th to Memorial Day with nothing in between. So, it does break up that stretch. The only problem I foresee is that 3rd week of April is not always going to work out with Easter. We travel to be with family for Easter, and I do not think we are alone in this. Personally, I think break should always be the week after Easter. If Easter is late, then do an early spring break (end-ish of March) and then a mini-break over Easter (a long weekend with Good Friday as a day off).

  • 91. 60660  |  January 14, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    every September I question why we organize our whole lives around some dumb school calendar? home schooling is becoming more appealing.
    having our kids hauled back into school in August during 100% weather just adds insult to injury – if testing or exams are the reason cps wants kids back earlier then move the tests

  • 92. AE  |  January 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I finally looked at the facebook / RYH post. Apparently, the draft calendar discussed at the meeting last week was a typical Track R calendar just shifted to start a week early and end a week early. Does anyone know why? What’s the point of that?

  • 93. LR  |  January 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    @92: I don’t know. Perhaps CPS thinks adding time upfront to the calendar is more useful from an academic point of view than just tacking on days to the end of the year? However, realistically, I don’t think they can move the start up that much. An early August start is not all that practical, due to the nature of their buildings. So my guess is they were trying to balance the goal of maximizing time upfront (because it is more productive than at the end of the year), but also minimizing the number of weeks that kids and teachers would be sweltering in un-airconditioned classrooms.

  • 94. AE  |  January 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I guess that’s probably their reasoning. But to me, the one week shift seems like such a insignificant change with a downside (attendance and heat issues in August) but very little upside. Personally I’m trying to salvage our annual vacation always scheduled for the last week of August. I’d be willing to juggle and lose money on our vacation rental if it was part of some larger pedagogical goal — but for a one week shift in the calendar for no clear reason?? Oh well….

  • 95. Falconergrad  |  January 14, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    AE, I agree, one week doesn’t really change much. I would rather have that week in June when weather might be cooler.

    Selfishly, I would like the pools to have full lifeguard staff right thru labor day, but I guess if we are in school, we won’t be at the pool then…and I guess some of the lifeguards must be from the burbs and/or probably start sports early anyway.

    I would love to see the state do a mandate that school cannot start before labor day, as has been done in other states. One decision made that would not have to be revisited over and over again.

  • 96. anonymouse teacher  |  January 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    @92, it is all about testing. Starting a week earlier puts us where virtually all the suburbs are. It gives kids an entire 30+ hours additional instruction time before testing in March. This is reality in education now. Every single thing revolves around tests. Everything.

  • 97. Cake for all!!  |  January 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm

  • 98. AE  |  January 15, 2013 at 9:18 am

    @97 I enjoyed the article. @96 — Wow, is that true?? If so, I think it’s crazy on so many levels. Philosophically, I hate that everything revolves around standardized testing. Practically, there’s no way that one week in August is going to have any meaningful impact on ISAT test scores.

  • 99. Falconergrad  |  January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    So they finally fixed the Student Days Off and Key Events listing in the CPS website. I still think it is strange that someone there did not catch this before. I called the BOE to complain and the person who answered told me I didn’t want the BOE, I needed to call someone specific at CPS. I was skeptical about the dept she told me this person worked it did not sound like they would be responsible for web content. Anyway, I told her that I did want the board to be aware of CPS inability to get even this basic information to parents correctly. When I did call CPS, the person I spoke to made a point of telling me I did not have the right office, but she would help me anyway. Not even a thank you for pointing out a huge glaring error on a website that parents use daily!

  • 100. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    99~FG~that’s just CPS~no one accountable for anything ‘not my dept’…and you wanted a thank you for pointing out one of their many errors…thanks for the chuckle!!!

  • 101. anonymouse teacher  |  January 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    @98, in my experience, yes. I can tell you that I have not attended a sinlge PD (during school hours or outside of those hours) in the last 2 years where testing wasn’t the topic of at least 50% of the total discussion time.
    If we do go back before Labor Day (which I actually agree with in theory), I do think we’ll have the same issues the district had years ago. Attendance will be poor, many funding dollars will be lost due to poor attendance that week and we’ll go back to an after-labor-day start once we re-learn that lesson again.

  • 102. EdgewaterMom  |  January 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Why does CPS have such a problem with getting students to go back before Labor day? It seems like most other districts in the Chicago area (and in much of the country) start before Labor day.

  • 103. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    There are several states where they have it that no one goes back b4 labor day.

  • 104. anonymouse teacher  |  January 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    @102, I can’t speak for everyone in every community, but Chicago has large immigrant populations which return to their country of origin for the summer. My school has two large populations which do this. Plane tickets are cheapest if a family leaves in late May/early June and returns after Labor Day. So, in our case, many families simply leave early and return late. We don’t see our full student body return until mid September each year and those first two weeks of school we are only at 80-90% of what we’ll have in late September (which makes staffing numbers and the 20th day issue very precarious). My former school on the west side had a similar problem.

  • 105. EdgewaterMom  |  January 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you for clearing that up. It sounds like that will be a difficult problem to solve.

  • 106. HSObsessed  |  January 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    And the calendar is released for the 2013-14 school year. School will begin on August 26, 2013 and end June 10, 2014 for all schools.

  • 107. pantherparent  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    CPS doesn’t always get plaudits on this site, but I think they hit a home run with this schedule. A unified calendar was needed and this one looks to strike the right balance and actually take into account what people wanted. Plus no more half days!

  • 108. mom2  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    @107 – I agree and communicated a lot sooner than most people expected.

  • 109. cpskids  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    It will be interesting to see if it sticks.

  • 110. lovIT9  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    August 26, 2013 and end June 10, 2014 for all schools, sounds great! Thanks CPS.

  • 111. averagemom  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    They have the wrong week for Thanksgiving. They’re giving us the week before off.

  • 112. mom2  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    While I do think they came up with the best compromise, I will miss the less expensive and less crowded vacations at the end of August. However, I can’t think of a way to get what I want, keep everyone else happy and end on June 10th which sounds great.

  • 113. mom2  |  January 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    @111 – good catch, I’m sure they will fix that 🙂

  • 114. EdgewaterMom  |  January 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    @averagemom You are right – they have the wrong week for Thanksgiving. Woops! Just when it looks like they are doing something right (no half-days, starting a bit earlier, etc) nobody in CPS notices a HUGE mistake like that.

  • 115. pantherparent  |  January 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Okay, so maybe it wasn’t a home run due to the Thanksgiving blunder. Let’s call it a ground-rule double.

  • 116. averagemom  |  January 18, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I will be glad to have my kids on the same schedule!

  • 117. Falconergrad  |  January 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    A poorly advertised (IMO) survey that ran dec 17 to jan 11 (included holiday break and just usually a very busy time of year for most parents) and got only 13,000 responses when there are 403,000 students. And then the calendar is announced 7 days later? Really sounds like they wanted/used parent/student input! Oh and its coming up at the next board meeting, which is only five days away. And CPS, what’s with all the Friday press releases? Can’t you ever finish anything important on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday??

  • 118. Bookworm  |  January 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I don’t think CPS is prepared to function on a unified schedule yet- in the last few years they are totally unprepared even with the staggered starts from Track e to r. I am sorry they feel so strongly that a unified schedule is needed. I hope this change goes hand in hand with a commitment to have even just all of the books for in time for the start of the new school year.

  • 119. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 18, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    #117~FG~where did you get 13,000 responses? I was told a MUCH Much smaller number. There are so many who won’t be home for the b4 Labor Day start, but I love 3 days off at Thanksgiving!

  • 120. Falconergrad  |  January 18, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    It’s in the press release. Who told you a much smaller number? If 13,000 is inflated that is pretty pathetic. Why does CPS moan about a lack of parent involvement while making it so difficult to be involved? Our new principal is doing acgood job improving it at the school level, why can’t the higher ups show by example?

  • 121. AE  |  January 18, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    @ 119 — The email from BBB said “More than 13,000 parents, students, teachers and principals completed our survey…”

    And now I’m off to cancel my vacation!

  • 122. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    #120~I’m sorry, I wasn’t told, I read it ONLY 2,063 parents took the survey. I believe it was RYH who had this information.I’m going to ask them.

  • 123. cpsobsessed  |  January 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I started a new post with the letter posted.
    Note that the 13,000 says parents, teachers, and principals so perhaps they did an internal survey as well?

  • 124. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I think 13,000 is 2,063 parents and 10,000 kids and teachers. I have a question into Wendy.

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