Four-Day School Week Mulled for Illinois

Chicago Democrats, Teachers Union oppose cutting class day

By Ivanna Hampton
|  Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010  |  Updated 2:43 PM CDT
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Illinois lawmakers are pushing to save school districts more than milk money with an unusual method.

The House passed a bill 81-21 Monday to give local school boards the option to shrink the school week to four days, but not everyone is happy about it, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"It is tragic when we try to balance the budget of the state of Illinois on the backs of our babies," said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago.)

Davis and other Chicago Democrats -- including Mayor Daley -- oppose the idea. So does the powerful Chicago Teachers Union, who could sway legislation.

Lawmakers raised issue with eliminating a day of school for kids and the childcare burden parents would face, but downstate politicians are in favor.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bill Black (R-Danville) called the measure a way to protect students from classroom cuts. 

Black said a small Downstate district superintendent complained about rising fuel costs. Buses are forced to drive long stretches to pick up students in rural areas, the Tribune reports.

The bill would require students to rack up the same amount of class time a year, but it would lengthen the school day or shorten summer vacations. Schools could spend less on operating costs, including utilities and transportation. 

"We're in a fiscal crisis the likes of which we've never seen, and if you want to do this for a short period of  time to save money, then we should let school districts do it," he said to the paper.

Black plans to amend his legislation to ensure the four-day school week would end in three years if it becomes law.

The bill heads to the Senate, which is also struggling to solve the rampant financial fiasco hitting districts statewide. 

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