“I want to congratulate the students, parents, teachers and principals who helped kick off a strong, promising start to the school year,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who rang the opening bell at Cameron Elementary on September 8.
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, who visited several schools on the first day and throughout the first week, echoed the Mayor’s sentiment.
“Students who are in school on the first day will learn more and perform better,” he said. “We are grateful to the parents, community partners and students who made an effort to get to school ready to learn on the first day.”
Two CPS schools – Edison Park Elementary and Edgar Allen Poe Classical School – achieved perfect attendance on day one, with the remainder of the District coming in at 94.8 percent, up 1.1 percent from last year. The surge was due in part to a digital push that saw CPS trending nationally on Twitter on the first day and resulted in more than a million impressions on social media.
Community-based efforts were also in full swing, with significant increases in lawn signs, door hangers and home visits, as well as 100,000 phone calls from the Back-to-School phone banks. CPS staff also attended 95 summer festivals throughout Chicago, distributing key information and 40,000 bags of free school supplies to neighborhood families.
Additionally, CPS opened its doors this year with fewer teacher, principal and staff vacancies than any other time in the past five years (the exception being the year when 50 schools were consolidated), and saw no incidents along Safe Passage routes on the first day of school.
Dr. Janice K. Jackson, the District’s Chief Education Officer, visited Till, Burnham, Belmont-Cragin and Clemente on September 8 and was encouraged by what she saw.
“I could see the enthusiasm in our students and their parents for starting the school year right, and I’m encouraged that the first day got off to such a strong start,” she said. “At CPS, we’re all focused on accelerating our progress, building on the gains we’ve made in the past four years.”