Quick Hit Matthew Blake Tuesday July 24th, 2012, 6:03pm

Longer School Day Deal Reached Between CTU, CPS

The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools announced this afternoon an interim agreement that will let Mayor Rahm Emanuel go forward with his desired seven-hour school day, while also more or less maintaining the workload of teachers.

Both CTU President Karen Lewis and Emanuel billed the compromise as a breakthrough victory.

The agreement does not necessarily mean that the two sides are close to reaching a deal on a new contract, but it does set precise 2013-14 school day guidelines and also lets up to 477 laid off teachers return to work.

CPS elementary school days, including those that start class August 13, will increase by more an than hour to 420 minutes, or seven hours. But teachers will not see an increase in their current 420-minute work days.

High school days will also jump more than an hour to 435 minutes, and high school teachers will now work 435 minutes, instead of 421 minutes.

Elementary and high school teachers will also continue with an almost identical number of instructional minutes compared to preparation minutes.

The division of instructional time for students in the seven-hour day is not settled, but additional elementary instruction will come from 477 new elementary teaching positions that the Board of Education has agreed to fund.

The Board agreed that priority for these positions would be given to tenured teachers who CPS laid off over the past three years. According to Lewis, the agreement is that the board must hire a recently laid off applicant if at least three qualified teachers apply for the available positions.

Lewis said at a press conference that, “It is expected the new hiring will include many recently-neglected areas of instruction, including art, language, library science and physical education, thus achieving a CTU goal of a better school, not just a longer school day.”

In their public discussion of a new collective bargaining agreement, Lewis and the union have repeatedly emphasized the idea of a broader curriculum.

Still, no deal is imminent, as Lewis said the two sides “remain far apart on compensation issues, and this agreement does not change the timeline for CTU to exercise it full rights in contract negotiations.”

The union authorized a strike in June and could walk out as soon as August 20, after both CTU and CPS rejected the terms of third party fact finder Edwin Benn’s contract recommendations last week.

Besides compensation, outstanding contract issues include a comprehensive recall procedure for laid-off, tenured teachers.

Thirty minutes after the CTU press conference, Emanuel and CPS Chief Education Officer Jean-Claude Brizard made their own announcement of the agreement.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel spoke about the deal in grand terms. “The change that we've been waiting for, the change that we've been hoping for, for a very long time, is change that is now coming,” said Emanuel, who has pushed for a longer school day since becoming mayor last year.

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