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Brizard: Many Parents Pleased With Longer School Day

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It may seem like the summer just started, but some charter schools in the Chicago Public Schools system are back in session.

And as he prepared to welcome students back to classes on Wednesday, CPS chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard said many parents had told him they were pleased with the longer school day.

Brizard spoke with CBS 2 from the LEARN Hunter Perkins Campus, at 1700 W. 83rd St. in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, one of several schools that opened for the new year Wednesday.

Track E, or year-round, CPS schools will resume classes on Aug. 13. The rest of the schools will resume Sept. 4.

On Tuesday, Brizard worked a phone bank, calling parents personally and reminding them of the dates for the first day of school. He said he was surprised by the number of parents who didn't know the dates.

Brizard also discovered that many parents were pleased with the longer school day that was implemented for some schools last year with the zealous insistence of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and will be implemented systemwide next school year.

"Many (parents) were very happy about the longer school day when I told them that that particular school will start at 8 o'clock in the morning and go to 3 in the afternoon," Brizard said. "They are quite happy to see the longer, fuller school day that we are going to be implementing for this coming fall."

Brizard also said that while summer break is important, it might be too long.

Meanwhile, there is still a possibility that some schools might not start on time. The Chicago Teachers Union voted to authorize a strike, and both CPS and the union rejected a fact-finder's report that was supposed to resolve salary issues that have been a sticking point.

While the possibility of a strike is not off the table, both sides did reach what they called a "win-win" compromise on one major issue – the longer school day.

In order to avoid having teachers working a school day that is 20 percent longer than now, the school district agreed to hire 477 new teachers to handle the extra programs included in the longer school day, according to Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale.

But salary, benefits and other issues are still unsolved.

Brizard said Wednesday that he is confident that all issues will be settled by the time the school year has begun for all students, although, he says, "We have a lot more work to do."

Both sides have committed to ensuring that the Track E schools open on time in a couple of weeks, Brizard said.

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