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Chicago Heads Back to School

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CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard talks about longer school days and the board of education's raise stalemate with teachers on the first day of school.

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Summer is officially over for about 300,000 Chicago children as regular-track students on Tuesday head back to class.

It's the city's second "back to school" day after thousands of early start Chicago Public Schools students returned in August.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard welcomed back students at STEM Magnet Academy, one of three schools to break from Chicago Teachers Union opinion and approve longer days for elementary school students.

STEM will extend its day by 90 minutes beginning in January, while Genevieve Melody Elementary School and Skinner North Classical School adds 90 minutes right away.

The CTU and Emanuel's school board are still at a stalemate over a longer school day.

Emanuel and Brizard want a 90-minute longer day next year for elementary school students, and teachers, who recently were denied a contractual four percent raise, want to be compensated for it.

Brizard offered up a two-percent raise compromise, but teachers said it wouldn't cover the extra work.

CTU leaders including president Karen Lewis took to pulpits across Chicago Sunday to get their message across a week after Emanuel called on local religious leaders to push the longer school day in their sermons.

"You trust us with your children," Lewis said Sunday. "We trust you to help us educate them."

The board of education needs teachers' approval for the longer day but won't get it until after the teachers' current contract expires next June.

For now Brizard just wants to make sure regular-track kids are in class Tuesday when the school bell rings.

"The first day is critical for success, so please make sure you come on time the first day and every day thereafter," Brizard told NBCChicago.

On Tuesday, the CTA will allow children, as well as the adult accompanying them, to ride free to and from school between 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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