Emanuel tours new, full-day kindergarten classrooms - Fox 2 News Headlines

Emanuel tours new, full-day kindergarten classrooms

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

All kindergarten students will spend their time in the classroom for a full day this year.

City and CPS officials say they're able to accommodate 30,000 students with the help of portable classrooms -- dozens of which have been built at public schools across the city.

The mayor and the schools chief talked about how all of this is getting done while teacher lay-offs are dominating the news.

"This opportunity cannot be reserved for some it is an entitlement for all of our children," CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says.

The program is now doubled. 30,000 5-year-olds will spend seven hours instead of three or four hours a day in classrooms.

"Now we have six full day kindergarten classrooms," a school principal explains.

Schools Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel toured one of the buildings where formal learning will began.

"This is what it means by investing in our future and that future is standing on the side of this podium," Emanuel said. "This will be happening across Chicago. Where parents no longer have to drop their kids off for kindergarten and pick them up by lunch time because we as a city only used to do a half a day."

CPS' extended kindergarten program will be funded after thousands of teachers and staff at the central office were laid off and 49 schools were closed, freeing up more than $100 million.

Rahm and Byrd-Bennett say those cuts should have been made a long time ago because that money will be spent on students instead of salaries.

The mayor and the schools chief say they have no regrets.

"If at the core of that decision, is this good for kids? Is a child going to benefit from these decisions? If the answer is a resounding yes, most cases it is yes," Byrd-Bennett says. "The mayor and I have a conversation and we move forward."

"Yeah there's hits on us, political," Emanuel says. "I'll pay that political price every time to make sure every child has a full day of kindergarten."

Mayor Emanuel says it's worth it for him because this is what he's been campaigning for -- trying to get all students around CPS on the same system.

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