Notes from Unified Calendar meeting with CPS/CTU - 1/11/13
We were invited to a very last minute meeting with CPS and the CTU on 1/11/13. Jennie Biggs attended the meeting on behalf of RYH. We were not invited to earlier meetings where much of this plan was developed. These notes may help to give parents a sense of the plan's direction at this late juncture.
I went to the CPS-Calendar meeting yesterday. I thought it was a productive meeting. Clearly, some groundwork had been laid at previous meetings that I was not at- this was my first Calendar meeting. I thought there was a very open & honest dialogue and that everyone was made to feel comfortable about voicing opinions. I learned a lot while listening to the dialogue and wish I would have known about the South Side Focus Group so I could have learned more earlier. There were 2 parents, 1 FACE who is also a parent, 3 teachers, Karen Lewis, & 4 people from CPS (Cheatham, Howard, Russell, Moriarty (lawyer)). BOE wants to approve 2013-14 calendar in Jan. b/c that's "what the parents want". 3 parent focus groups, 2 principal focus groups, a CPS focus group, Ed teams, and parent & teacher surveys were all conducted. The survey results were distributed to us- both from online and focus groups. To try to make a long story short, the survey revealed that a majority of respondents favored an August start date. It also appeared that most parents & students favored a calendar like Track R & (looking at the results right now) most teachers preferred something like Track E. Many of us agreed that the survey questions were confusing- specifically the questions about the possible intersessions. It would have been helpful to have a visual calendar for people to look at to see what that meant and to compare. The teachers at this meeting did a good job of explaining why they preferred the calendar with intersessions. But, with intersessions, the school year itself is stretched out which didn't jive with parent concerns of childcare/programming offered during the intersession time. Also, with intersessions, we'd be starting early (Aug) and ending in late June. Turns out CPS had drafted a couple of calendars on paper so now we had a visual to really get down to work. Based on the survey & our own discussion, we worked with the draft that has Monday, August 26 as the start day for students. Teachers would start on Wednesday, August 21, but that depends on the ironing out of the PD time- teachers could start on Aug 19. When we left today, this is what the calendar looked like month to month, starting in September. Sept: Labor Day off; Oct: Columbus Day off, Oct. 31 end of Quarter 1; November: November 1 PD Day, no students, Veteran's Day off, November 12 Parent Conferences, Thanksgiving Break is now 3 days- off Wed, Th, F; Dec: 2 week Break starts Mon, Dec 23 and continues through Jan. 3; Jan: MLKJr Day off, Q2 ends Jan. 23, PD Day Jan. 24; Feb: Lincoln's Bday off; March: Q3 ends 3/27, PD Day March 28; April: Parent Conferences April 7, Spring Break April 14 – 18; May: Memorial Day off; June: Last Day for Students is June 10. Not sure what last day is for teachers due to PD still being figured out- there are 3 “flexible” PD days. I think it's either 6/11 or 6/12. Total days of student attendance is 178. Spring Break will now always be the 3rd week in April.