The Chicago Teachers Union may be giving in to the idea of a longer school day.
While teachers continue to negotiate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's school board, union president Karen Lewis said on the first day of school Tuesday she wants this year to be a planning period for the longer day to come.
"The position of the union is very simple," Lewis told reporters. "The longer school day will be here. What we want to make sure is that we plan for a better school day. The longer school day is coming."
Emanuel and CPS Chief Jean-Claude Brizard on Tuesday gave schools an incentive to jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible.
Three schools that voted last week -- against union opinion -- to approve the longer day were given extra money to help with the transition. Those that do the same will also will be rewarded, Emanuel said.
Schools that lengthen the day immediately will be given $150,000 each and a lump sum for teachers of $1,275, or two percent equal to the average teacher's salary. Schools that lengthen the day in the new year will receive $75,000 and lump sum payouts of $800 for teachers.
Two CPS schools, Genevieve Melody Elementary School and Skinner North Classical School, will add 90 minutes to their day this week. STEM Magnet Academy will extend its day by 90 minutes beginning in January.
STEM principal Maria McManus said Tuesday she didn't see the incentives as a "bribe."
"You don't have to bribe people to do something that they want to do," McManus said.
Emanuel and Brizard have long been advocates of a 90-minute longer day for Chicago elementary school students. Teachers want to be compensated for it, though, and when Brizard offered up a two-percent raise compromise, the CTU said it wouldn't cover the extra work.
Lewis maintains the longer day needs to consist of quality learning time.
"We want to make sure that this year is what we use to plan for a better school day," Lewis said.
"Quality is infinitely more important [than quantity]."