Year-round CPS students hit the books

CHICAGO Chicago Public Schools has 41 year-round schools, including Westcott Elementary, a South Side pre-K through 8th grade school that has 560 students.

"It is better. It gives them a chance at the come back without losing everything they got from the last year," said Melena Starks, parent.

Starks' son, Jamari, made the switch from the traditional schedule last year. The second-grader thinks it's "cool, cause I get the first two weeks out" in October.

The system is set up with 45 days in school and 15 out on break. The days out depend on which of the five cycles the children are following. Teachers say the program allows them the opportunity to expand and even in some cases accelerate their curriculum.

"I think that is a big plus because they do have shorter amount of times out of school," said Janice Weston, Westcott pre-school teacher.

The number of Chicago Public Schools moving to a year-round schedule continues to grow. Just this year 23 more schools took on the extended schedule program, including Earle Elementary.

"We do see research that student and teacher attendance do increase. And we're really excited about that happening here at Earle," said Lori Campbell, Earle Elementary School principal.

However, some say the program is not a cure all for the ills of the Chicago Public Schools. Valencia Rias of education watchdog group Designs for Change says scheduling can be a problem because of the different cycles. She also said the idea doesn't address the educational shortcomings of the system already in place.

"It is not an extended school year. It's a redistribution of the days these children are having off," said Rias.

Rias also questions the data about children's learning in year-round schools in Chicago. She said because of tough economic times, funding is not available for the research.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.