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Is Chicago Ready for a New School Year?

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Sept. 2, 2011: Jean-Claude Brizard is encouraging students to show up for the first day of school Tuesday. Brizard also explained why a longer school day will better kids' education.

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Three Schools Agree to Longer School Days

Sept. 2, 2011: This Labor Day weekend is no holiday for the Chicago Teachers Union. Two schools are breaking from the existing contract, agreeing to a longer day beginning next week. A third school will join them in January.

Brizard: Negotiations With CTU Ongoing

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is still pushing for longer school days this year.
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Tuesday is the big day for thousands of Chicago children: the first day of school. And it's not coming without controversy.

The Chicago Teachers Union and Rahm Emanuel's school board are at a stalemate over a longer school day. Emanuel and CPS Chief Jean-Claude 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.

Garrett Popcorn Shops, AT&T, Microsoft and Hyatt Hotels are among the businesses helping CTA subsidize the free rides.

The CTA provides about 150,000 daily rides for students with reduced-fare permits. Many of those students attend CPS.

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