They Moved Spring Break!?

Lots of coverage — and some apparent dismay — about the changes CPS has made to the 2012-2013 schedule in order to make up days.  Is it really that bad?  Take a look at the news coverage below and let us know.  Then tell us how you would have done it better.  And why it’s CTU’s fault (j/k!).

CPS announces strike make-up days for studentsWGN News: Chicago Public Schools have announced the make-up days for the seven school days lost during the teacher strike.

Strike make-up days mean no Presidents’ Day and shorter winter break for students Sun TImes: To make up for a seven-day teachers’ strike, most Chicago Public School kids will have classes on Presidents’ Day, see their winter break trimmed back and end the school later than expected in June.

CPS strike make-up days cut into vacations WBEZ: Students at CPS will have a little less vacation this year, now that they have to make up the seven days missed while teachers were on strike.


CPS Revises 2012-2013 School Calendars to Ensure a Full School Year

Calendar revisions meet terms of tentative agreement with the CTU and recapture seven days of lost instructional time due to the CTU strike


Chicago – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced revisions to both Track E and Track R calendars for School Year 2012-2013 that ensure students benefit from a full school year and also meet the terms of the tentative agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Changes to the calendars will recapture the seven days of instructional time that were missed during the CTU’s strike and still delivers the full school year and the Full School Day, giving all students access to a quality day to help them succeed. All changes to the CPScalendar are consistent with the tentative agreement reached with the CTU and were developed in collaboration with the CTU and approved by other labor organizations whose employees will be impacted.

“Every single day counts. These changes to the school calendar ensure our students continue to benefit from more quality time in the classroom in front of our teachers,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “With this calendar, we’re preserving the Full School Day and year and the tools and support our students and teachers need to drive academic achievement.”

The original 2012-2013 Track E and Track R calendars were designed to help boost student achievement by increasing the number of full school weeks by 30 percent and adding 10 additional student attendance days. The calendar revisions announced today include 11 additional student attendance days, bringing the total number of student attendance days to 181, both above the national average of 180 and above the number of student attendance days in the 2011-2012 calendar, which was below the national average, at 170 days. Changes to the calendar proposals include:

  • President’s Day: President’s Day (February 18, 2013) will be converted to a day of student and staff attendance as a make-up day. Teachers will receive this day back as a paid holiday at the end of the fourth quarter. CPS encourages schools to use President’s Day as an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions made by the Presidents of the United States by educating students on their roles in our country’s history.
  • Professional Development: Teachers will receive six half days and seven full days of professional development for a total of 10 professional development days. The seven full days of professional development will be non-attendance days for students and the six half days will be half days of attendance for students.
  • Report Card Pick-Up: Report card pick-up days will not be days of student attendance.
  • Make-Up Days: Due to the CTU strike, seven make-up days have been built into the revised calendars.

It is important to note, that Columbus Day (October 8, 2012) will remain a student and staff attendance day. Starting next year, Columbus Day will not be a student and staff attendance day, as outlined in the tentative agreement reached with the CTU.


The breakdown of make-up days for Track E and Track R include:


  • Track E Make-Up Days:

Five days from Fall Intercession: October 15-19

President’s Day: February 18

One day added to the end of the school year: June 19


  • Track R Make-Up Days:

Two days from Winter Intercession: January 3-4
President’s Day: February 18
Four days added to the end of the school year: June 19-21, June 24



The Chicago Board of Education (BOE) granted temporary authority to CEO Brizard to make necessary changes to the calendar. Authority has been granted through the next Board meeting. The newly revised calendars can be found online at


The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 402,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.




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  • I am furious about these changes. It was one thing to modify the first week of the year, but CPS completely MOVED the week of Spring Break. In my case we already had flights booked for both the first week of the year and Spring Break. All of those flights were booked at early discounted rates. I now need to rebook the flights with the reduced fares gone. We now need to reschedule our complete vacation including hotels. Again, I understand the changes to the first week of the year, but changing Spring Break is a terrible idea. If you're affecting, please contact the CEO's office at (773) 553-1490. These changes are costing us over $1,000 to rebook at higher rates.

  • In reply to cpsdad:

    With a student population of 87% "free and reduced lunch" your dilemma will fall on deaf ears...

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    There is also the issue that CPS provide both breakfast and lunch on half days.
    We need to remember that most of CPS students are from low-income households, and so I’m sure rebooking vacation tickets is the least of concerns for the people making the schedule and for most of the CPS households.
    I think it’s unrealistic to engage a parent community of 400,000 to try to develop a schedule. Which parents would participate most? Probably the ones with vacations scheduled — but how does one fairly represent all viewpoints?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    2 points: Our Hispanic families go to Mexico over winter break and have already booked the trip--student absences will be held against the school and the students.
    It is not really hunger near the end of this too long school day for our students--they are tired and cranky because they need a nap by 3:00 and nod-off until 3:30 as we try to teach them.
    They are starting to dislike school.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    district299reader Absolutely! Most parents who are think they are "involved" with these and other CPS issues usually have little or no sensibility beyond what is best for themselves.

  • In reply to cpsdad:

    We have the same problem with the changes to the Track E fall break.

    I've already contacted the school and basically asked for forgiveness, but with only two weeks before the vacation there really is no time to make these changes without either incurring huge additional costs or simply writing off the trip as a loss.

    Clearly another decision made by the CPS with little forethought.

  • In reply to marrs96:

    some parents are advocating getting the schedule changed back -- via email:

    Hoping you can help us get the word out that CPS moved spring break in the latest calendar where they added days due to the strike.
    Why did they need to do this?
    We already booked travel, and would lose thousands of dollars if we move (and ask the other 6 couples to do the same)
    and now we would also have to find care for ANOTHER 5 days if school is closed the following week + our kids should not be out of school when it is in session

    Can you try and help us get it back to the original week it was scheduled for (first week of April) vs what they moved it to (last week of March) (and DID NOT note in the press release)

    link to the press release where the move IS NOT mentioned...

    Thanks for your help!

  • Maybe it's just me, but is anyone else bothered by the references to the "intercessions" in the calendar notices above? The word should be "intersessions" --meaning "between sessions" -- rather than the word they use, which is derived from "to intercede". Unless, of course, there is some intentional subliminal meaning intended....

  • In reply to Curmudgeon:

    Curmudgeon: I am frequently disturbed by CPS communications. He he.

  • Is there a new schedule for 2013/14 yet? Are we all going on one schedule for next year?

  • There will be a unified calendar next year, but it hasn't been designed yet.

  • --Where are all the subs for all the days teachers will be taking off due to already planned vacations AND NOT BEING ABLE TO BANK all their SICK and PB DAYS--????!!!!!!! many subs do NOT want to work the 7 hour day--since it is for the same pay too...

  • Some1 pls ask A. Winkler why displaced teachers cant be used as substitutes in schools. The need is there, esp with employees already planned vacations--would this not save CPS $$$?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Its not Winckler, its the CTU. I've had many interactions trying to get displaced teachers hired as day to day subs and TATs but the CTU demands the displaced teachers spend 2 weeks in a school and then rotate to another school so they get as much experience and exposure in hopes they will meet a principal that will hire them. There is no proof this is more beneficial for the displaced teacers more than subbing day to day.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I feel good now and have applied to be a day to day sub.
    that was in March!!!
    I am retired but there are people willing to sub .So this
    problem belongs to the Board.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Then why are not the displaced teachers reporting to schools? Our school needed 7 subs last week--no displaced teacher reported to the school.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yeah but it's a lot easier. If you are a day to day you never know where you are being sent or what kind of mess you have to deal with for the day. You often have no lesson plans or seating charts. You rarely get your preps and you always have lunch duty. Subs are the bottom of the totem pole.You never ever see the principal. At least displaced teachers have a chance to network. I know a few displaced teachers that ended up with full time positions. The 2 weeks at one school is not a bad deal. You get your full pay and benefits. Warning tho....don't take a maternity leave. When the leave is over, you're out of the displaced pool. I think displaced teachers have 1 year in the pool. And yes there is definatly already a shortage of subs. I already had an offer to cover a classroom for a sick sub thanks.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    She's on vacation...seriously

  • I wish some media outlet would report that CPS, you know, who are always about "what's best for the kids" and where it's always "children first", never originally intended to make up the school time lost to the strike. They were going to save big $$$ by not making up the days (in saved salary payouts [and other cost related savings] vs. losses in funding) and in turn, hose the kids out of 7 days of learning. That was a trade they were willing to make. They had to move on this through the negotiation process.

  • In reply to Maestro:

    How much money will be saved by forcing teachers to take vacation days for all these pre-planned vacations that can't be changed? Not much. The only people that will be drastically affected are Track E schools, which are less than half the schools. In each Track E school maybe 10% of teachers will have plans they can't change. So if there are 30,000 teachers, and less than half are Track E, that means 15,000 teachers, of which 1,500 that will have to take vacation days. The high estimate might be 5,000 teachers. Let's go with the high estimate and generously estimate that for every vacation day they take it saves CPS $500, which it doesn't, it's far less than that on averae. Multipy by 5 days of vacation. 5000 teachers x $500 x 5 days = 12.5 million, and this is a very high estimate. More realistically CPS will "save" a few million $ . Even this lower estimate is also probably too high of an estimate considering they have to pay additional substitute teachers and now teachers are limited as to how many days they can bank. Bottom line, to suggest CPS has some secret plot to save "big $$$" via this strike is ridiculous if not plain dumb.

    What is obvious from the changes to these calendars is that both CPS and CTU, who both agreed to these changes, don't know crap about running schools. To change vacation dates for 10,000 teachers and another few thousand support personnel and 100,000 kids and their half-million family members just a couple weeks from the vacation? Monumental stupidity. Symbolic of the stupidity running both CPS and CTU. Regardless of vacations what about all the doctor appointments and even surgeries that teachers postpone for these breaks and now they can't change them? This is bureacracy at its finest in which the "quality" of education isn't the focal point and only the "quantity" is considered.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "More realistically CPS will "save" a few million $ ." If you knew anything about CPS (which from your wildly contrived numbers, shows me you don't), you would know that a few million $$$$ is all the incentive that the "children first" district needed. Furthermore, CTU did not "agree" to this and CPS in true "top-to-bottom" dictatorial fashion released this calendar without the input of parents and others. Finally, how would have you made up the lost time?

  • In reply to Maestro:

    What are your numbers, if you're such a insider-genius about CPS? If the CTU didn't agree to this calendar, why would they allow CPS to claim as much? All of a sudden they've lost their voice?

  • In reply to Maestro:

    You didn't mention that striking teachers expected to NOT lose that salary.

  • In reply to Donn:

    It's an ANNUAL salary, Donn. The Board may prorate it over a number of days--which is what they choose to do--but the salary is paid for a school year. Thus, teachers rightly expect not to lose the salary.

    As for student days of attendance, the state sets a minimum number that all districts must meet--either 174 or 176, depending on how parent conference days are handled. CPS has chosen to have 178 days this year (the Mayor may claim 181 days, but six half-days really amount to three full-days). Most school districts in the state schedule only the minimum number of days required. If CPS wants to go above that, it's their choice.

    CPS owns this calendar. Let the chips fall where they may.

  • teachers do NOT get vacations days. They will be forced to take sick days to take 'booked' time off-which means the need for a sub for each day the teachers are taking the sick days--which will cost CPS $$$. (Teachers will have to be 'untruthful' about being sick-- if you have a tyrant principal or chief of schools who will make the principal tell the teachers to go to the doctor, pay $30, and get a doctor's note upon their return to school--yes, this happens.)
    Students too will now lose their perfect attendance and the schools students attendance score will drop-which is held against the principal -btw.
    Brizard set the calendar--CPS intrnlcom memo says so.
    The new 1/2 days are also screwed up--there will be lots of children waiting to be picked up at 11:30, and will not be picked-up until 3:00--who ate a school breakfast at 8:15 -and eat a lunch at 10:30--teachers still get a 1/2hour prep and a 23 minute lunch.
    More proof that the lack of anyone with historic or even some current knowledge of how CPS runs/works, shows why this calendar is a mess. Do not blame the CTU--I am not a CTU memeber-btw--this is clearly on CPS.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Your principal cannot require a doctor's note of illness until you are out for 5 days in a row. That is board policy.

  • In reply to teachervoice:

    Not so--pattern of absences, p can ask 4 a note.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The principal *can* ask for anything s/he wants, but there is NO board policy or rule that says you must supply a note for an absence. You file the appropriate form, write "Sick" in the reason for absence, and sign the form asserting that information provided is true. If the principal asks for a doctor's note (and you don't have one), ask him/her for documentation in board policy that one is required.

    While I, too, have heard the 5-day-rule-for-a-doctor's-excuse, there simply is no mention of it in the board's policy manual. For an extended medical leave (that is, in excess of TEN days), you must provide proof from a "certified health care professional."

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    There's also no policy that says principals have to approve your sick/pb days.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Go read the Employee Discipline and Due Process book--there are group acts of misconduct for employee attendance issues--go look!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    There you go comparing apples and oranges. Geez, no wonder you want to remain anonymous.

    The employee discipline code has consequences for "Having recurrently poor attendance, tardiness, or a repeated pattern of absences or tardiness at a specific time or on specific days of the week or month, or in relation to holidays."

    Also, for "Using sick leave in an unauthorized manner for purposes other than allowed under Board Rules and regulations."

    Neither of these has anything to do with supplying a doctor's note for absence. It goes without saying that you only use sick days for when you are sick.
    The burden of proof lies with the Board, not the employee.

    Re: "There's also no policy that says principals have to approve your sick/pb days."

    Okay, I never said there was. The old cause of absence reports had a clause that said something like 'the principal has investigated this claim and found it to be true," which the principal then had to sign.

  • In reply to teachervoice:

    Actually, it is 3 days.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Please provide a URL or citation for this.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Amen sister...or brother. This is complete lunacy. The half days will be so bad, we will all wish it was a joke. Remember they staggered the begin/end times so that the bus(es) could "efficiently" pick up students. How will this work when ALL students are leaving at 11:30? More buses? Not cost effective, unlikely. Kdg. and Sp. Ed students aimlessly trying to walk home....more likely

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Where did you get the information about a 30 min prep and 23 minute lunch? Is it published somewhere?

  • CPS subs cost $150 a day to the system-tax payer, (may be more.)

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I subbed for the past 3 years. Last year I was at one school almost exclusivly. I filled a vacent arts position, but only got sub pay. The school saved $$$ by not filling the position and used me. I was not certified for the position. That's what the principal does. I was at another school filling a maternity leave for pre school. I have a type 9. So again I was only paid as a day to day sub. This same school had an 8th grade maternity leave which the principal filled with an unqualified teacher....paid sub pay. Principal saved lots of $$$ again. I should have been in the 8th grade, but than I would have had to be paid as a reg. teacher not a sub. Curiously in June the principal asked me to teach summer school. Out of 28 eight graders 14 flunked. She actually asked me to do whatever I needed to do to pass them on to high school because "I don't want them back here". Turns out last day of school she supposedly accepted their missing work and retested others. She passed them all. This is what is going on all over the district. I also had the same principal ask me to be the second certificate in a room of 47 fourth graders, "to keep the union off her back"This was the first week of school. This principal was holding the second 4th grade position open till her student teacher in the 6th grade room, who was the niece of the librarian of that school, graduated in January. I left in mid Oct. Called the union but I don't think anything changed there. There is a shortage of subs. In the spring I was being called by two principals directly. By May you're lucky if you can get a sub. The board closes the applications soon. They don't accept new subs after the open enrollment date is closed. Good luck!

  • In reply to 30 years:

    dear 30 yr vet

    I should know better than to listen to the board.
    I retired in Feb 2011.I was told the board had enough subs
    and to watch the HR page.In march 2012 HR opened up on line
    applications for sub.I had everything filed on march 12.
    That is where i sit waiting for i do not know what.I am still
    certified with the state.Does anyone know who to call?
    or where to go ?Every communication i have with HR has led
    to voice mail with no reply.i even wrote the Sun Times fixer.
    Then i read here some people were asked to apply.If the Board
    does not want me -OK-but how do i find out Help.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    I would reapply on the HR Portal-hr4u

  • In reply to rbusch:

    I am not a retired teacher. I taught High School in the 70's - when we joked we were getting "combat pay" - and left in 1981.In those days subs were paid $40.00 a day. The city stopped issuing certificates in 1974...too many qualified graduates. All us boomers took teaching majors,and every guy was ion school looking for his military deferment. Remember it was the draft, so I took FTB positions. Anyone remember those?. I came back after being away for 30 years working in the corporate world. Not much has changed with CPS. For the last 2 years I was paid $147.97 a day as a sub for 6.25 hours. Subs are paid by 15 minute incraments. No benefits, no sick days and I could only work when the kids were in school, but I did have to contribute to my pension as did the BOE. I am now a full time regular teacher with all the benefits. I feel like I paid my dues subbing the last 3 years! If a retired teacher subs they are paid quite a bit more. That's why they are putting you off. They want the newbies out of collage, or the part timer who subs 2-3 days a week for low pay. Subbing is the worst job in CPS. Worse than lunch room duty to be sure!!!

  • In reply to 30 years:

    I taught for 41 years in Southside High schools I know
    all about combat pay.I also know about how hard a subs life can be but i just wanted to sub a couple of days a month.
    I was very sick but now feel great.O well I will just keep
    on trying.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Just keep bugging them. Call around to some schools where you know people. It's the clerks that call for subs. Make friends with some of them. Yes, bring them some treats and you will be amazed. You'll be able to chose the days you want to work! Good'll get some days.

  • I received an invitation to sub from HR shortly after I retired BUT I will not apply because I do not want to take away anyone's job. I thought CPS had excess teachers?
    Also, I was a little taken aback that I would have to reapply, complete a background check and fill out a resume. This is a costly process for CPS and very unnecessary. I taught at CPS for 38 years and am always amazed at the ways CPS finds to waste money.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I remember days when the school needed subs and could not get them.
    a couple days a month would be what i want.

  • How long ago did you retie?

  • June 15, 2012-received letter about a month later

  • An online parent/teacher survey could have been provided by CPS before the calendar change was completed!

    Buffalo Springfield - Stop Children What's That Sound - YouTube

    There's something happening here
    What it is ain't exactly clear
    I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    There's battle lines being drawn
    Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
    Young people speaking their minds
    Getting so much resistance from behind

    I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    A thousand people in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly say, hooray for our side

    It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your life it will creep
    It starts when you're always afraid
    You step out of line, the man come and take you away

    We better stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, hey, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, now, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down
    Stop, children, what's that sound
    Everybody look what's going down

  • Everyone knows what CPS does makes NO sense! To have President's Day as a make up is ridiculous. No one takes Lincoln's Birthday off and it's on a Tuesday. Now that's disruptive to learning: come to school on Monday, have Tuesday off, go back in the middle of the week?!?!?!? That just tells you it makes no sense.
    Heck, take your vacation, don't reschedule. It'll serve them right: dropped enrollment = loss of funds.
    I have no intentions of re-planning anything especially since I can't save my sick days or personal days!

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Me either...let the cards fall as they will.
    I think it's sabotage myself...that's Rahm-bo's method of madness,

  • I think CPS and the Mayor are punishing all the parents who supported the teachers during the strike. They added the half days that only cause problems for the working parents. Then these parents will leave the system and then he can shut down the schools and make them charter schools. If you screw with the mayor he makes you suffer! He doesn't want these people in the city because he knows he won't have their votes. You have to think like the devil!

  • Lord, what is it with people. Everything is not a conspiracy theory. Everyone wants to be in charge and share their opinion, but no one wants to be in charge. I shudder to think what would happen if all of you conspiracy people were running things. If you know the people at the top - they just aren't that smart - you're giving credit where it's not due. You have groups of people making rapid decisions to create as much order as possible - they are not crystal balling every decision that they make. I wish there was as much discussion around IMPROVING schools rather than just arguing between adults. *Hmph...taking my ball home, so I can play by myself...crazies....*

  • If you don't think Emanuel and CPS are saying one thing publicly and then making other plans behind closed doors you aren't paying attention.

    Didn't Tim Cawley let it slip that CPS intentionally starves struggling schools of resources?

  • fb_avatar

    They aren't there to create disorder; they are there to preserve disorder.

  • Can anybody explain why they moved spring break. It just does not make sense. From my post at cpsobsessed below.

    From the cps
    “Spring Break: Spring break week has been moved up to March 25 to 29 from April 1 to April 5 to ensure sufficient instructional time before the end of 3rd quarter.”

    This does not say Before finals just sufficent instructional time.
    By my calculation (most likely off) by end of 3rd quarter the old calendar would have 130 instructional days as opposed to 129 for the new calendar. The students would have 3 full days back in school after the spring break. If they don’t know the information after 129 days of instruction they are not going to learn it in a week.

    Moving the spring break makes no sense. Even taking the CPS explanation for it.

    I just want to know if they are going to be lenient with absences. Putting a calendar out and then pulling it out from underneath us. My two kids are young and missing a week wont harm them.

    I know quite a lot of families who are going on their original spring breaks. Me being one of them.

    It does not make any difference in instructional time having spring break the week after easter as opposed the week before. Moving just hurts people leaving makes everybody happy. Why move it.

  • No institutional memory:
    When the Board approved the 2012-2013 school calendar, there was no one with institutional memory to remind them that Spring Break ALWAYS includes Good Friday so there is not the issue of several thousand teachers taking the day off since it is part of Spring Break.
    Since no one remembered this, they set Spring Break as the week after Easter, March 31, 2013. This meant school on Good Friday.
    Obviously, someone pointed this out to the Powers That Be and they took the opportunity to correct their mistake and move Spring Break to the last week of March, which includes Good Friday.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    So instead of several thousand teachers being upset it is again the several thousand parents who get the short end of the stick. Between the strike and the new calendar I feel like one of those bouncing balls in the lottery drawing. I always lose at that also so why should this be any different. Perhaps CPS and CTU should
    throw us a bone for all the crap they have put us through.(not choosing sides)

    Say 21000 teachers who are upset.
    And lets say only affects 10% of kids. which is 40200
    which is better.

    Sorry venting.

  • fb_avatar

    I don't think the previous poster was saying that teachers would be upset and they were chosen over the parents/students. I think they were just saying that CPS had not maintained past practice and rather than facing backlash for that, they elected to change the week.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    The old calendar has been out for months. If there was any backlash (which I did not hear) it would have been settled by now. Why change it again and create a second round of backlash. Why not just leave it as the amount of instructional days are equal (this is CPS excuse for moving it). Why not keep it the same and fix it next year. So they screwed up and put the wrong date. Now they screw up twice as bad.

    I personally hounded my Principle and visited the CPS site daily for about a month to find out when spring break was as I knew the vacation I was scheduling was going to be non-refundable. So I get penalized for doing my due diligence. Not acceptable. I'm a good parent and make sure I get the details before acting. CPS maybe should do the same instead of shooting from the hip.

  • In a document on their websight dated October 11, 2012, Ogden lists their spring break as April 1st through 5th, 2012. Is it possible for schools to choose their Spring Break schedule now?

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