School started Monday for thousands of Chicago Public School who attend Track E schools, which run a year-round schedule.
William Rainey Harper High School, at 65th and South Wood, got a ceremonial kick-off from the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Jean-Claude Brizard rang the bell at Harper at 8 a.m. to signify the start of classes at all 247 Track E schools.
Brizard toured the school and spoke to students about the importance of attendance. He also spoke about the difficult decisions he and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have had to make regarding the CPS budget.
"There's a $712 million deficit. There will be pain with this budget, but we want to minimize the impact on children as much as possible," Brizard said.
Brizard said safety and security remain a top priority. Even as schools are reviewing the need for full-time Chicago police officers patrolling at schools, Harper has several officers at school and many parents are involved in the "Safe Passage" program, which provides adult escorts around the neighborhood.
Though they run on a different schedule, Track E schools have the same number of instructional days as regular track schools.
Chicago Public Schools start at three different times this fall. A few charter schools started last Monday, Track E schools started Aug. 8 and the rest of CPS schools start Sept. 6.
Brizard and other CPS officials have been running phone banks and going into neighborhoods to remind people about the first day of school.