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CPS Excited Over Smooth Start

Stark Contrast to 2012 and First Teachers Strike in 25 Years

The Chicago Public School attendance on the first full day of school was up from a year ago.

This, according to the CPS, occurred despite the fact the many students are now going to a new school because their old facilities have either closed or consolidated.

The district said that 93.5 percent of students showed up for classes on Monday, Aug. 26. That is when the majority of CPS’ schools opened.

In 2012, schools opened on two different tracks. Schools that opened in August of 2012 had an 87.8 percent showing on the first day. Students arrived at a 93.4 rate in September a year ago, according to the district.

The start date of Aug. 26 marks two significant changes for CPS Ñ the creation of a unified school calendar and the decision to begin school before Labor Day.

The shift from a two-track system to a single calendar allowed CPS students to begin school together on Aug. 26. All students will also have the same end date and days off, which the CPS said will simplify planning for CPS families.

However, charter schools had their own starting date. Parents or guardians should have contacted the child’s school to confirm his or her first day of school.

Early reports of students attending school on the Southwest Side mirrored that of the city. State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11th) visited Azuela Elementary School, 4707 W. Marquette Road, on the first day of school. He helped ring the school bell with Carmen Navarro, the school principal.

Twain School, 5131 S. Linder Ave., added some additions to the school. An open house and back-to-school bash is being planned for Stevenson Elementary School, 8010 S. Kostner Ave.

The back-to-school bash for Stevenson is being held with Bogan High School on Saturday. The bash will be held at Bogan, 3939 W. 79th St., beginning at 10 a.m.

The Southwest Side had no school closings or consolidations for the 2013-14 school year.

This is in contrast to a year ago, when students and parents alike were faced with a teacher’s strike, the first that had occurred in 25 years.

On Sept. 10, 2012, teachers, along with some students and supporters, began marching up and down Archer Avenue. Many motorists honked their horns in support of the teachers.

The strike occurred due to the large rift that had widened considerably between the Chicago School Board and Chicago Teachers Union.

The mistrust and frustration between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Karen Lewis, president of the CTU, deepened with no end in sight.

The strike ended just over a week later. The CTU preserved the right to provide raises on the basis of experience and advanced degrees. The CPS had tried to eliminate raises on the basis of tenure. The union also raised merit pay for teachers.

However, tensions have risen again over the series of school closings and consolidations that took place this spring. Lewis said this was going to happen and denounced the plans by the CPS.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett became the CEO of Chicago Public Schools and led the transition of CPS with school closings and consolidations.

But Byrd-Bennett pointed to the smooth beginning for Chicago Public Schools as a good start. She congratulated students, teachers, parents, community members, sister city agencies and CPS staff on a successful first day and first week of school.

She added that the Safe Passage workers, the Chicago Police Department, parents and community stakeholders worked together to provide for the safety of students going to and from school this week and will continue these efforts throughout the year.

ÒI want to recognize and thank everyone involved for every effort made to make the first day of school a successful one for our children,” said Byrd-Bennett. ÒWe must ensure that each day is more successful than the last as we now relentlessly focus on the most important part of our work.

ÒTeaching and learning is our core, and all of our efforts must be to guarantee that each student surpasses our expectations.”

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