August 9, 2010
The first bell rang this morning at nearly 200 Chicago public schools that have adopted a year-round calendar that is growing in popularity throughout the system.
At a bell-ringing ceremony this morning at John Altgeld Elementary School, 1340 W. 71st St., Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman welcomed students and parents to the new school year. Huberman was joined by Alderman Latasha Thomas and NBA superstar Dwyane Wade, a Chicago-area native.
Almost 100,000 students are enrolled at the year-round, or Track E schools. This year, 63 additional schools – including, for the first time, such neighborhood high schools as Robeson, Corliss, Morgan Park and Gage Park -- will operate on the Track E schedule, bringing the system-wide total to nearly 200 schools.
Chicago Public Schools introduced the Track E calendar several years ago. In 2007, there were just 18 schools on the Track E calendar. Today, about a quarter of CPS schools are on the Track E calendar.
“We know that students, parents and teachers are excited to get the school year started. We’ve been pleased with the progress students have made over time at year-round schools,” Huberman said. “Clearly, communities have seen the benefits of an innovative strategy designed to keep students engaged in learning throughout the year.”
The year-round calendar eliminates the traditional summer “learning loss,” thus reducing the need to spend valuable class time reviewing previous instruction. Students at Track E schools are in school the same number of instructional days as other students, but intersessions are distributed throughout the calendar to give staff and students breaks at just the right times to prevent burnout.
Huberman pointed out that moving to a Track E schedule is an organic process that starts within school communities, giving parents a greater stake in the education of their children.
Stakeholders, from staff to parents, are engaged in the process. By the time a school gets approval from the Chicago Board of Education to switch to a Track E calendar the proposal has been thoroughly vetted at the local level.
The first day of school for students who attend schools that operate on the traditional calendar is Tuesday, September 7.
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.