The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Capital projects on school board’s agenda
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Chicago Board of Education will likely approve a number of remodeling, painting and construction projects, with much of the money spent at turnaround schools and for career education programs.
More than $14 million will be spent on “Pathways Program” construction for career programs at Lindblom, Richards, Roosevelt, Schurz, Sullivan, and Simeon high schools, as well as other unspecified schools.
The new facilities will house programs in culinary arts, business, information technology, early childhood, digital media, pre-engineering, human services, architecture, and other career education areas.
Of the proposed turnarounds, Casals, Herzl, and Smith elementary schools, as well as Chicago Vocational Career Academy, will get structural renovations plus other upgrades like painting, new floors and, in Smith’s case, a playlot. Fuller, Marquette, Piccolo and Stagg elementary schools are slated to get lighting, flooring and painting improvements. Woodson will get a new playlot.
Crane High School, which is slated to phase out but will likely begin to share its building with Chicago Talent Development High School, will also receive $7.3 million in interior upgrades. Lathrop Elementary, slated to close, will receive $3.4 million in accessibility and masonry improvements.
In addition, the plan states that Camras, Hanson Park, McCormick and Locke elementary schools will get new modular classrooms and renovations to existing rooms for pre-kindergarten, using about half of a $9 million state grant for early childhood facilities, plus $900,000 in district matching funds. Another $4.5 million of the grant has been set aside for community-based programs, which are not listed in the plan.
Another $7 million will go to installing security cameras at 14 high schools: Clemente, Bogan, Hyde Park, Sullivan, Morgan Park, Orr, Marhsall, Dunbar, Manley, Wells, Senn, Juarez, Farragut and Julian.
The district has not yet created a facilities master plan, which was one part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s transition plan. State law requires the district todevelop a draft of a 10-year facilities master plan by Jan. 1, 2013. Officials say they will also release a fiscal year 2013 capital plan and a 5-year capital plan by May 1, 2012.