2006 News Briefs
Jan. 4: ISAT changes
A state testing committee recommends major changes to the 8th-grade math ISAT. The passing threshold should be lowered to the 38th percentile, the committee contends, which officials say brings the passing mark in line with the national norm. The committee also recommends changing some questions and giving kids extra time to finish the test. Typically, 8th-grade math scores have been far lower than scores in 3rd and 5th grade, the other benchmark grades. Former state superintendent Max McGee says the committee’s action lowers standards.
Jan. 16: Little Village High
The price tag for Little Village High could rise by as much as $10 million. The project’s general contractor is fighting city officials over the increased costs, which would bring the total cost of the new school to $73 million, the most expensive in Chicago. The project manager overseeing the construction for the Public Building Commission resigned two weeks after the contractor filed the claim for the additional $10 million.
Jan 25: Virtual Academy
The School Board approves the establishment of the Chicago Virtual Academy, which will open in the fall under Renaissance 2010. The school will enroll approximately 400 students in grades K-8. A large proportion of learning will take place through on-line lessons in a unique combination of personal and multimedia instruction.
Jan 26: School closings
The district announces it plans to close four struggling schools and reconstitute another. Frazier, Farren and Morse elementary schools will close in June and Collins High will stop accepting freshman. A fourth elementary school, Sherman, will reopen with all-new staff and will be managed by the Academy of Urban School Leadership.
Feb. 2: Homeless suit advances
A judge rules that a nearly two-year-old lawsuit filed by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless against the district can move forward to trial. The coalition sued the school district, claiming that the Renaissance 2010 program defied provisions of a case from 2000 that required CPS to ensure a stable education for homeless children.
Feb. 4: Absenteeism
The district announces it will publicize teacher attendance rates at high schools beginning next year, saying concern over the issue was repeatedly raised in focus groups with parents and students. The teachers union blasts the idea, saying it implies that teachers abuse the sick leave policy and that absenteeism has no bearing on student achievement. CEO Arne Duncan says absenteeism is “a symptom of some deeper problems we need to look at.”
Feb. 6: Discipline
Chicago police announce that more officers will be stationed near schools with more severe gang problems to patrol during arrival and dismissal times. The district plans to clarify its discipline code in an effort to reduce student arrests, saying that principals are sometimes too quick to call police for minor infractions. Last year, 8,500 arrests were made on school grounds. CPS plans to join with police to hold meetings with parents and students to revise the discipline code.
Feb 9: Teacher hire grant
Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposes spending $10 million to hire new teachers and create smaller classes in elementary schools. Schools with more than 20 students per class in kindergarten through 3rd grade would receive $50,000 grants to lower class sizes. But Blagojevich’s plan is for only one year.
Feb 12: Free pre-school
Gov. Rod Blagojevich unveils another initiative to provide pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-olds. The program would entail spending $135 million over the next three years to provide a minimum of 2-1/2 hours a day of preschool to families at all income levels.
Feb 14: Budget cuts
Schools receive their tentative budgets for 2006-07, reflecting $83 million in program and staff cuts, and another $36 million in cuts of teaching positions due to declining enrollment. The budget shortfall, one of the worst since the mayor took charge of the system, is largely due to $70 million in pension costs, up sharply from previous years. The district is counting on an extra $100 million from the state and will raise property taxes by $55 million.
Feb 21: Test Changes
ACCESS becomes the first statewide, uniform assessment of how well bilingual students are learning English. Although ACCESS is more difficult to administer and to pass, officials say it will ensure that students learn social English as well as the English needed to master various subject areas.
March 3: Attendance
Attendance inched up to 92.8 percent this year, compared to 92.6 percent in 2005. The district unveils more attendance incentives. Students with perfect attendance during March and April will be eligible to win family vacations, courtesy of radio station WGCI-FM. CPS also challenged 10 schools with some of the worst attendance to improve by the end of April, offering students from the two schools--one elementary and one high school--that improve the most a chance to win new athletic shoes.
March 9: Missing ISAT
San Antonio, Texas-based Harcourt Assessment Inc. failed to deliver the annual ISAT exams on time. State Superintendent Randy Dunn recommended canceling Harcourt’s contract. The company won the multi-million dollar contract, but failed to live up to the expectations of the state leading some to question if it should remain Illinois’ test vendor.
March 15: Pension Problems
School officials threaten to sue to the state for pension funding. Historically the state has subsidized teacher pension costs for teachers outside of Chicago, but for only some of the city’s public school instructors. With $1 billion going to non-Chicago teacher pension funds this year, $200 million to $300 million should be headed to Chicago, school officials argue.
March 21: Universal Preschool
Studies on the effects of increased spending on pre-K programs show mixed results. Some researchers say there is a “fadeout effect” where the gains toddlers make during pre-K programs disappear over the next year or two. Other studies show three- and four-year-old children benefit in the long run from preschool. Researchers cite higher graduation rates, higher incomes and lower incarceration rates among people who went to preschool than people who did not
March 22: Reading
Chicago Public Schools will receive $24.5 million in federal funds to help struggling readers in 6th through 8th grade at 32 schools. The five-year grant will pay for teachers, tutoring, professional development, technology and materials. District officials say the initiative will be modeled after a pilot program conducted in 13 schools last year; 12 schools reportedly improved their reading scores. Chicago received the most money of all eight grant recipients. The list includes Memphis, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; and San Diego school districts.
March 23: Health
Some 2,400 schoolchildren will receive sacks of groceries to take home each weekend through a district partnership aimed at improving academic performance by ensuring poor kids have adequate nutrition. The program, Nourish for Knowledge, is operating in 16 schools, but officials hope to expand it if it's well received by parents. "There are so many kids whose parents just don't have the means to provide enough nutrition," says Mike Mulqueen, executive director of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the district's partner.
April 5: School Violence
Approximately 150 Kennedy High School students skipped classes to demand more security at their school. Some suggested putting police officers in classrooms. The protest and walkout was sparked by an assault involving four Kennedy students who attacked another student, punching him and breaking his nose. Over the past year, the number of reported violent incidents at Kennedy rose 56 percent.
April 6: ISAT delays
State Superintendent Randy Dunn and other Illinois State Board of Education officials testify before a legislative committee to try and explain why the state’s annual achievement tests were delivered late by contractor Harcourt Assessment Inc. Dunn held himself and ISBE accountable but education officials also blamed Harcourt. Lawmakers also questioned whether or not the results of the test would be valid. Dunn contends test scores will be valid. Harcourt designed Chicago’s new Stanford First, a reading assessment given three times a year.
April 7: Reorganization
Chicago Public Schools announces it plans to eliminate the chief administrative officer job held by David Vitale, who joined the district in 2003. It is the first step in efforts to streamline central office and cut $25 million in administrative spending. Under the reorganization, Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan and Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins will split leadership responsibilities. Eason-Watkins will oversee elementary schools, special education, early childhood and research and accountability while Duncan will handle seven departments including the new External and Internal Affairs department.
April 11: Safety questions
Citing a survey at six hand-picked schools, district officials say Chicago students feel safer than students in other urban school districts. But critics question the reliability of the survey, saying the small sample did not adequately represent the student population. The schools surveyed generally performed above average and were not on academic probation. The survey results were announced days after students at Kennedy High School held a rally demanding more security to decrease school violence.
April 12: Junk Food
Lawmakers vote to reject Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s proposal to ban the sale of junk food from vending machines in elementary and middle schools. Legislators say they voted against the proposal because it wasn’t broad enough—for instance, it excluded the sale of junk food in school cafeterias.
April 13: Desegregation
Chicago residents have until April 15th to register to testify in the controversial court case involving desegregation of Chicago Public Schools. Witnesses and written testimony will be presented to Chief U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras on May 15. CPS officials say they have done everything possible to integrate schools and have spent more money on schools that cannot be integrated. The U.S. Justice Department contends the district needs continued supervision because racially segregated schools are not adequately funded and openings at largely-white schools were given to whites instead of minority students.
April 18: Gates grant
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards the district $21 million to develop more challenging curricula in high schools. The program is part of the High School Transformation Project, an initiative to decrease dropout rates and better prepare CPS students for college.
April 21: 6 in 100
According to the Consortium on Chicago School Research, only six percent of CPS high schools students will receive bachelor’s degrees by the time they are 25. The percentage drops to 3 percent for African American and Latino males. Researchers tracked students who graduated in 1998 and 1999, and attribute the problem to poor college preparation and few available resources once the student is in college.
April 27: Teachers Dismissed
More than 1,000 new teachers will not be rehired for the coming school year. Under the latest union contract, principals are allowed to dismiss any non-tenured teacher without explanation. Teachers receive tenure after four years in the district. Teachers union President Marilyn Stewart says the dismissals may be cause for a teachers strike during the next round of contract negotiations. Last year, 1,100 non-tenured teachers were fired, but 700 found jobs at other schools.
April 27: Sex Education
The School Board approves a program requiring all students to participate in sex education and for all teachers to receive special CPS training if they will teach sex education. Although abstinence will be presented as the “expected norm,” the course will include previously optional topics such as contraceptives and school-age parenting. Statistics showing 50 percent of all CPS high school students are sexually active and 6,000 babies were born to teen mothers in Chicago fueled the campaign for the new program.
May 4: Vote selling?
Parents from South Loop Elementary filed a complaint with the district's legal department, charging that men from a local homeless shelter were paid to vote for two local school council candidates. The men were reportedly spotted with flyers for Jacques Eady and Enrique Perez, who won seats as community reps. The Chicago Tribune reports that one man asked the principal, "Where do we get our $5 for voting?" Eady says he did not pay anyone to vote for him or Perez.
May 24: Lottery sale
The lottery never provided the financial fix for schools that was touted when it was first introduced, but Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to rely on it again. He proposes selling or leasing the lottery to bring in $10 billion. But only $4 billion would go directly into schools, while $6 billion would be invested to bring in some $650 million per year until 2024. Critics accused the governor of side-stepping the issue of over-reliance on property taxes to pay for schools.
May 25: Salary freeze
To save $4.5 million, about 1,360 administrators who make more than $40,000 per year will have their salaries frozen next year. The freeze won't affect principals or assistant principals. More central office reorganization and cuts are expected. The district received an extra $100 million from the state, but is still facing a likely property tax hike and is set to borrow $75 million in reserve funds. In January, CEO Arne Duncan announced that the district faces a $328 million deficit in 2007.
June 1: Tax hike
Mayor Daley approves another property-tax increase for schools, up to the limit allowed under the tax cap. The $55 million tax hike is the 10th since his 1995 school takeover. Ald. Patrick O’Connor, chair of the City Council Education Committee, says the increase is needed to keep from raising class sizes. Later in the week, 120 school administrators are expected to be laid off to save $11 million, part of $25 million in administrative cuts. The plan also includes a salary freeze for 1,300 employees earning more than $40,000.
June 4: New board president
School Board President Michael Scott tells Mayor Daley he will resign effective July 21. Scott has recommended Rufus Williams, a newly appointed School Board member who heads a sports agency and grew up in North Lawndale, as his replacement. Daley is expected to accept the recommendation. Williams and Daley reportedly came to know each other while both worked on programs at Orr High, Williams’ alma mater. Williams has served on the boards of Francis Parker and Providence St. Mel schools and as local school council chair at Whitney Young.
June 4: LSC election decision
A CPS hearing officer rules that two LSC members accused of paying six men $5 apiece to vote for them in the last LSC election can keep their seats. The officer ruled that while it is illegal to buy votes, the six votes weren’t enough to change the election’s outcome. A resident from a local transient hotel testified at a hearing that other residents were recruited in April to vote for Enrique Perez and Jacques Eady. The South Loop LSC parent member who challenged the election said he was outraged and the ruling “sent a horrible message.”
June 6: Budget cuts
Along with higher property taxes, the 2007 CPS budget will include 2,000 job cuts and cuts to after-school and reading programs to help fill a $328 million deficit. However, board officials note that many of the same teachers and aides who lose jobs could be rehired to fill openings that arise due to attrition and the opening of new charter schools. The new budget is 5 percent higher than in 2006 and includes a $55 million increase in teacher pension costs. Meanwhile, enrollment is expected to decline by an estimated 8,000 students. The head of the Civic Federation, a watchdog group, warns that the budget problems could well signal trouble when teacher contract talks begin next year.
June 14: Capital plan
Mayor Richard M. Daley announces a $1 billion plan to build nine new high schools and 16 elementary schools in 10 neighborhoods. The plan relies on a combination of bonds and money generated through tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Daley says the plan is necessary because he “can’t wait for what’s going to happen in the state,” referring to the state’s failure to provide money for school construction. Daley relied on TIF money previously in 2000 to raise cash for school construction.
June 17: Summer school
Approximately 3,000 additional students will attend summer school this year compared to last year after failing the reading or math portion of the ISAT. The district reinstated low math scores as a “trigger” for summer school this year. Some 27,000 students failed math, reading or both this year; last year, about 24,000 students failed reading. A CPS spokesman says some principals may have allowed some students to bypass summer school if their scores from last year were high enough. This year’s ISAT includes a section called the Stanford 10; scores on that section are used to determine whether a student must attend summer school.
June 20: Englewood pilot
A pilot summer school program in 11 Englewood schools will include three hours of math and reading instruction followed by three more hours of arts, sports and other recreational activities. The Keep Kids Learning program is the first step toward a serious discussion of year-round education, according to Mayor Daley. The six-hour day is twice as long as regular summer school. The program will last six weeks. Each school received a master teacher to coordinate the program, which is supported in part by a $250,000 grant from the John D. & Catherine T, MacArthur Foundation. The district and the city are contributing a combined $400,000.
June 21: Tutoring rules
The Illinois State Board of Education is proposing stronger rules to limit how tutoring firms recruit kids and to cap administrative costs. The proposal comes after the state kicked one major tutoring firm, Newton Learning, out of CPS last fall for ethics violations. Newton was accused of using CPS employees to steer kids to its firm. One state lawyer also says firms were suspected of giving out gift cards to kids, but the allegations were never proven. Tutoring firms say the proposed rules violate the No Child Left Behind law. ISBE’s proposal would also set up a system for evaluating firms; the first set of evaluations is expected in the fall.
June 22: High-quality teachers
In the wake of an Education Trust report showing that low-income, minority children are less likely to have high-quality teachers, state Sen. James Meeks leads a rally at City Hall to demand that Mayor Daley fix the problem and immediately remove poorly-performing teachers. Meeks was accompanied by a group of black fathers of Chicago Public Schools students. The group also demands competency testing for teachers and cash awards for better teachers. Daley points out that principals, not the School Board, hires teachers at individual schools.
June 26-27: Vote 'no' on budget
The watchdog Civic Federation issues a 65-page critique of the district’s $5.3 billion budget, urging School Board members to reject it, citing a lack of transparency, a failure to address soaring personnel and pension costs and the “murky” $1 billion school construction plan. Mayor Daley defends the construction plan a day later, warning that students could no longer afford to wait for state and federal money build schools.
June 27: Principal retirements
More than 70 principals are retiring this year, the second year in a row that the district has faced a large number of principal openings. Sixteen new Renaissance schools are among about 100 schools that are expected to have new leaders this fall. The district has toughened eligibility requirements and is relying on programs that include school residencies to help create a pool of candidates.
June 28: Tracking Ren2010
The district will track the achievement of children affected by school closings under Renaissance 2010 but will not stop shutting schools down, according to outgoing School Board President Michael Scott. District officials agreed to the plan after a majority of aldermen endorsed Ald. Michael Chandler’s resolution calling for closings to be halted until student progress can be evaluated. Opponents of school closings said students can end up shuffled between several schools. The district will study student test scores and attendance.
July 12: Test scores up
Preliminary ISAT test results show that, for the first time, more than half of students passed state tests in reading, math and science. Mayor Daley hailed the increase as historic, but others say the results from the revamped test are misleading. For example, the state lowered the minimum passing score for 8th-grade math and allowed students extra time to finish the tests.
July 12: Bribery indictment
James Picardi, a former CPS assistant operations manager, is indicted on charges that he took bribes in exchange for millions of dollars worth of school contracts. Picardi, the brother of the city’s Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi, allegedly received $5,000 from James Levin, the former president of Tru-Link Fence and Products Co., to help Levin obtain contracts with CPS.
July 13: Virtual school
The state’s first virtual public elementary school is preparing to open this fall with 600 students. The Chicago Virtual Charter School plans to serve students who want a less-structured, technology-oriented learning environment. However, the Chicago Teachers Union says such a school is illegal and argues that the state school code mandates “non-home-based” charter schools. Sharon Hayes, the president of Chicago Virtual, says the school conforms to the state statute because students will receive some instruction in the classroom by a state-certified teacher.
July 25: School ordinance
Aldermen pass an ordinance to crack down on students engaged in fighting within 1,000 feet of public, private and nursery schools. The ordinance originally would have levied fines as high as $1,000 or six-month jail terms on parents. Championed by Ald. Jim Balcer (llth) of Bridgeport, the revised ordinance gives parents a written warning after the first offense and fines after two or more offenses within a 12-month period. Some offenders may also receive 100 hours of community service as an alternative to jail. Balcer softened his original plan after complaints from several aldermen that it was too harsh. An attorney for the city says the ordinance can only apply to 17- and 18-year-olds. Under state law, younger students are considered minors and are subject to laws for juvenile offenders.
July 25 Board president appointed
Rufus Williams becomes president of the School Board, replacing outgoing Board President Michael Scott, who suggested Williams as his replacement.
July 25: Tutoring to stay
The federal government lets Chicago Public Schools keep its tutoring program for students from underperforming schools, who are entitled to tutoring under No Child Left Behind. Chicago had been banned from providing tutoring, but negotiations between federal officials and CPS resulted in a year-long waiver for the city, similar to deals made for Boston and New York City. The waiver requires Chicago to validate its claim that its program improves student performance. A report last year found that children in the CPS tutoring program posted achievement gains similar to children with private tutors. CPS’ tutoring program is less costly than private vendors.
July 25: Preschool for All
Gov. Rod Blagojevich signs a new law that will ultimately provide free, state-funded preschool to all children, regardless of their parents’ income. Previously, only children who were low-income or considered academically at-risk were eligible. Children’s advocacy groups had been pushing for such a bill, although critics wonder how the state will pay for it. The legislature set aside $45 million for 10,000 new preschool slots this year. The governor hopes to reach 190,000 3- and 4- year-olds by 2010.
July 28: Education march
State Sen. James Meeks organizes a march to protest what he calls Mayor Daley’s failure to provide better education for the city’s children. Meeks points to a Consortium on Chicago School Research study showing that only six out of every 100 CPS high school students graduated from college and to another study correlating unqualified teachers with low student achievement. CEO Arne Duncan insists that CPS is working to recruit the best teachers, and says student achievement is rising.
Aug.1: Budget critique
The watchdog group, Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform, releases a report criticizing the district’s 2007 budget, saying its staffing cuts and projections are “unsubstantiated.” The group also accused CPS of funneling money away from the poorest schools to schools with few low-income students. CPS counters that its $4.7 billion budget is transparent and says the group was briefed twice about the budget. CPS also says that central office is using more poverty money for summer school and reading and math programs at schools on probation.
Aug. 3: Small schools
A study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research reports that Chicago’s small schools are posting better attendance rates and lower dropout rates, but they are failing to produce higher test scores. Schools CEO Arne Duncan concedes that the district has a “long way to go.” The Consortium studied the first 16 small high schools created since 2002.
Aug. 7: GOP 'plan'
At a candidate’s forum, GOP gubernatorial nominee Judy Baar Topinka promises an education proposal that will be part of an overall plan for balancing the state’s budget. Topinka criticizes Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s lottery-selling proposal as unreliable. She concedes that the state relies too heavily on property taxes for education funding, but does not call for higher income taxes to pay for schools.
Aug; 10: Lower bar
The Illinois State Board of Education votes to lower the passing score on the social science/history exam prospective teachers must take to become certified. The lower score means 82 percent of test-takers would have passed the most recent exam, which is given to candidates who want to teach middle school or high school history.
Aug. 10: Teacher quality
Illinois’ plan to direct the best teachers to the neediest students is among the worst in the nation, according to an Education Trust study. Most states are doing poorly in both documenting the problem and finding solutions, the Trust found. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires states to submit data on whether poor and minority students are more likely to be taught by the worst teachers. Illinois says the state does not yet have the ability to collect all the required data.
Aug. 11: School transfers
Students from recently closed schools will get first priority for 500 open slots in 97 of the city’s top-performing schools. In all, 8,200 students are eligible for the spots under the No Child Left Behind Law, which allows transfers from under-performing schools. CEO Arne Duncan initially wanted to give the spots to children from three schools closed in June, but the federal government vetoed the idea. Homeless students, students from 11 schools at risk of closing and students held back are also eligible.
Sept. 5: First Day
Almost 385,000 CPS students attend the first day of school, a record 93 percent attendance rate, up from 92 percent last year. The district says that first-day attendance has risen 17 percentage points since 2000, boosting state aid. Officials also announce another round of attendance incentives. The year also begins with 14 new schools under Renaissance 2010; new English, math and science curricula at 15 high schools; and 107 new principals, the largest number of newcomers ever.
Sept. 6: Preschools
Using $17 million in new funding from the state, CPS will provide preschool slots for 2,500 additional children this year, including 700 3- and 4-year-olds in public schools and 1,800 youngsters in community-based preschools. Many of the new slots will be created in predominantly Latino schools. Some schools will add a third shift of classes to accommodate more students. The grant, from the new Preschool for All initiative, will also be used to improve community-based infant and toddler programs.
Sept. 12: Kindergarten
Illinois unveils a list of 172 skills that kindergarteners should learn to do. The state has had similar lists of specific goals for grades l through 12, but nothing for kindergarten until now. The list covers language arts, math, science, social science, physical development and health, fine arts, foreign language and social/emotional development. One example: in language arts, children should be able to read simple, common words; in math, they should be able to estimate numbers of objects in a group.
Oct. 5: Test delays
State Supt. of Schools Randy Dunn acknowledges that the state is not likely to meet the required Oct. 31 deadline for delivering school report cards, including test results and other information, to parents and the general public. Scoring problems and last spring’s late delivery of the tests to schools are to blame. The state board votes to penalize test publisher Harcourt Assessment and transfer most of the firm’s duties to Pearson Educational Measurement.
Oct. 7: Rivals agree
Mayor Richard M. Daley and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) join education leaders to call for more state funding for education, saying the issue transcends politics. Funding reform has so far not been a major issue in the race for governor. Incumbent Gov. Rod Blagojevich and GOP challenger Judy Baar Topinka have both said they would not raise the state income tax, a move that education advocates say is essential to funding reform.
Oct. 12: More grads
The Consortium on Chicago School Research revises numbers from its recent study on college graduation rates for CPS students, but some of the corrected figures are still dismal. The study said only 6 percent of CPS graduates earn college degrees by their mid-20s, but the Consortium now says the figure should be 8 percent. The percentage of all CPS grads who eventually earn a degree was originally reported as one-third, but the new figure is just 45 percent.
Oct. 18: Tutoring
Only 52,000 of the 200,000 students eligible for free tutoring under No Child Left Behind signed up this year. Chicago has $50 million in federal money to spend on tutoring programs. Families can choose private tutoring firms or can enroll students in the district-run program.
Oct. 24: Dropouts
A new state task force on dropouts holds a summit on the problem, with testimony from former dropouts who have returned to school. In Illinois, an estimated 210,000 young people don’t have diplomas and are not in school to get them. The task force will focus on strategies to get kids back into school. The task force is chaired by former Illinois State Board of Education chairman Jesse Ruiz. A report from the task force is scheduled to be released next January.
Oct. 23: Principal openings
Two of the state’s highest-achieving public high schools, Northside College Prep and Walter Payton College Prep, are both searching for new principals. Northside will replace James Lalley, the school’s first principal, who will retire at the end of the school year. Payton must replace Gail Ward, who has been promoted to head of principal preparation and development for the district.
Oct. 31: Scholarships
Mayor Richard M. Daley and Roosevelt University President Charles Middleton announce a joint scholarship program involving Roosevelt and Social Justice High in Little Village. Social Justice graduates who maintain a 3.0 grade point average or better, take honors and Advanced Placement classes and score a 20 or above on the ACT will qualify for full four-year scholarships to Roosevelt. About 200 kids from the classes of 2009 and 2010 are eligible. Roosevelt tuition ranges from $8,000 to $11,000 per year.
Nov. 1: Internet phones
Chicago Public Schools will spend $28 million to switch to Internet-based phone service. CPS officials say the switch will reduce operation costs and phone bills. The new technology uses one network for both voice and data traffic. Public safety authorities will be able to find the precise location of a call in an emergency and the system will provide teachers with voice mail and caller ID, with the goal of increasing parent-teacher communication.
Nov. 2: Merit pay
Mayor Richard M. Daley and CEO Arne Duncan announce that CPS won a $27.5 million federal grant to launch a merit-pay pilot program in 40 low-performing schools. The plan will begin with 10 schools at the start of the 2006-2007 school year and eventually expand to another 30. (See related story.)
Nov. 9: Preschool for dads
City officials announce a $2.5 million federal grant to provide evening preschool for youngsters, and parenting and child development courses for their fathers. The program will target 200 men in Uptown and Englewood. Mayor Richard M. Daley says he hopes to take the program citywide.
Nov. 14: School arrests
Chicago Police Department data show that students arrests fell to 7,400 in 2006, compared to 8,500 in 2005. Most of the decline was due to a reduction in the number of students charged with simple battery, an offense that schools have wide discretion to handle on their own without calling police. Last year, the high number of arrests sparked controversy and prompted the district to clarify its discipline code in an effort to reduce arrests. More police were stationed near schools with the most severe gang problems.
Nov. 15: Ren 2010
The School Board approves 17 new schools in its third round of Renaissance 2010. Ten will open next fall and seven will open in 2008. Ten of the 17 are high schools. Collins High, whose closing sparked controversy last year, will become a performance school run by the Academy of Urban School Leadership. Marine Military Math and Science Academy will become the first public Marine Corps-run high school in the country. Two more schools recommended for approval will go before the board in December.