Making Longer School Day Happen May Have a Budget-Busting Price Tag

Marion Herbert's picture
Monday, January 23, 2012

Six months after barely closing a $712 million deficit, Chicago Public Schools officials have spent nearly $10 million that has not yet been budgeted in their aggressive push to lengthen the school day.

Fifty schools have gone to a longer day this year. With the entire city school system moving to a seven-and-a-half-hour school day next year, parents and community members are questioning how the cash-strapped district plans to pay for the extended time at more than 675 schools.

Becky Carroll, the school district’s spokeswoman, said that cuts would need to be made elsewhere to allow the costs of a longer day to fit into the district’s nearly $6 billion budget.

“A budget is about priorities, and you invest in what your priorities are,” she said. “At the end of the day, this is a critical priority.”

The schools that have already extended their hours have added 90 minutes to their day in exchange for staff bonuses and financial incentives of up to $150,000 per school. The district announced last week that it would award $100,000 grants to 30 more schools that develop innovative ways to use the additional time.

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