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Chicago District, Union Reach Deal on Longer School Day

Chicago's school district will add nearly an hour of additional time to the school day, but it won't require teachers themselves to work longer days, under the terms of an tentative agreement struck between the district and the Chicago Teachers' Union, Catalyst Chicago reports.

Instead, the district will add some 477 teachers—prioritizing previous displaced ones—to provide the additional lessons in art, music, and "enrichment" classes.

The district and the union have been at odds for months over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts to lengthen the school day in exchange for teacher raises of 2 percent. The CTU demanded a 30 percent raise to work the longer hours.

A fact finder's report issued after the two sides reached an impasse in negotiations essentially recommended a raise of 15 percent for teachers, if they were expected to work the longer day. (Both sides rejected the recommendation.)

Predictably, both sides are claiming victory in this deal. For Emanuel, it is the successful addition of the longer school day, and for CTU, it is the hiring of additional teachers and rejection of a longer teacher work day. (Teachers who have been displaced from the district in recent months will get priority for hiring, a policy known in the field as "recall rights.")

There are questions lingering on both sides, though: For one, it's not at all clear where the $40 million to $50 million will come from the cash-strapped district, which has already proposed emptying its reserves in its proposed budget. And in agreeing to the hiring of all the new teachers, the union appears to have weakened its best argument for significantly higher salaries.

Both the union and district say that this deal doesn't override the other disagreements that have come up during negotiations, and a strike is still possible later this summer if they aren't able to compromise.

In the meantime, check out colleague Nora Fleming's analysis of the results of some extended-learning-time pilot programs in the Windy City.

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