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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

School closing logistics on tight timeline

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has three weeks before state law dictates that she announce the district’s final school closing recommendations, but time is running out if parents are to get time to weigh their school options before the end of the year.

The state law that dictates the process for closing schools requires 60 days between the time the CEO makes the official recommendations and the decisive vote by the Board of Education. When CPS officials went to Springfield to shift the recommendation back from December to March, they did not request a shorter time period between the announcement and the vote, according to a source familiar with negotiations. 

As a result, the Board of Education vote cannot take place until May.  If Byrd-Bennett waits until the last minute to announce her recommendations, the vote wouldn’t be able to take place until a mere three weeks before summer break.

The May board meeting is set for May 22, although members could decide to hold a special session to take up the issue of school closings.

Parents whose schools are on the recommended school closing list will have one of two choices: Spend the month of April either continuing the fight to save their school, or deciding where they will send their children in the fall. Teachers and staff in schools recommended for closure also will be torn, as they try to figure out where they will be teaching in September.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says that the public hearings and comments required by law between the recommendations and the vote will carry weight.

“These are merely recommendations by the CEO,” she says. “They are not final and won't be final until we’ve completed our next round of engagement with school communities and after the Board of Education has taken a vote.”

However, even before the vote, district officials will be working “proactively” with schools recommended for closure and the designated welcoming schools.  

“There is a team of 40 subject-matter experts working to prepare transition plans for each school and its students before we launch the implementation phase of our transition work so we are prepared to move forward once final decisions are made,” Carroll says. 

The timeline was noted in the final report of the School Utilization Commission, which was released Wednesday evening. The report gave CPS the green light to take action at up to 80 schools, but also lays out steps that commission members believe should be happening between April and June.

District officials should spend the spring advising parents of their options for the coming school year. The commission says assemblies should be held at each school, where district officials “allow parents or other caretakers to both enroll their child at a receiving school and submit applications for selective enrollment, magnet, or out-of-area schools.”

However, this recommendation is somewhat confounding: Acceptance letters for magnet and selective enrollment elementary schools are set to go out the week of March 18. Also, by May, the application and acceptance at most charter schools will have taken place. (Charters that are in less demand, however, often still have space.)

Byrd-Bennett has said that she will make sure that parents have options, but has yet to lay out how this will happen.

District officials seem to be holding off on letting neighborhood schools offer up their extra seats to applicants. Last week, parents were sent a letter saying that open enrollment seats at neighborhood schools won’t be offered until May 19.

The commission suggests that district officials also spend the spring looking at how displaced children will be getting from their homes to new schools and working with the community to figure out safe passage routes.

CPS should work with community members to identify resources, such as the YMCA, that could replace the support offered by the school, the report states.

On top of all this, the commission recommends that CPS hold camps over the summer for all the displaced students at their new school.

Commission chairman Frank Clark says he is convinced that CPS leaders can accomplish these tasks in the short time period they have before the summer. He points out that Byrd-Bennett hired Tom Tyrell, a retired Marine colonel, to handle the closings.

“She has hired new leaders with extraordinary logistics background,” Clark says. “This guy knows what he is doing.



Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

From Wendy Katten, Raise Your

From Wendy Katten, Raise Your Hand, Illinois

It's sad that we need so many petitions to stop horrible policies from being enacted on our children. This one is critical.

If the state lifts the cap on class size for sped students it will impact all of our classrooms. Right now, no more than 30% of sped students can be in a general ed c/r. The state wants to change that and get rid of mandatory caps for sped. Please sign and share.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago


She has hired new leaders with extraordinary logistics background,” Clark says. “This guy knows what he is doing.

I really don't think the word Child and logisitics should be connected. This is horrible. Why don't they print their "core" plans on what they will do. I am not convinced of the ease of this plan. Have these people tried to get Emergency Forms and 5th grade physicals even at the best of schools? Honestly? You think Illegal Immigrant parents are going to pour their "logistics" out?


How will they plan for kids who do not pass the ISAT?

How will they plan students who lied on their residency originally?

What happens if a child doesn't show for the first week in their "receiving school?? will that space open up?

Will ALL siblings be sent to the same school? How will this be figured out?

What will happen to all the old supplies and computers?

How will they hire the additional teachers?

Will a student "travel" with his/her personal aide to new school?

There are so many questions for 25k kids going here and there?

When will teachers know their jobs. I know cps doesn't care but I thought SB7 dicated some pretty strict rules on notification?

CPS couldn't keep up on these 80 schools for 120 years or can they suddenly figure it all out in 120 days?

What about kids who need bilingual services for languges like Polish, Chinese?

Honestly....this is would be interesting if it wasn't so unfair and tragic?

How is Rahm going to help 1000's of unemployed teachers? I know he thinks little of us...but we are humans with families...who made need social services/

Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Michelle Obama Dances while......

While Michelle Obama came to school to “dance” our students way into fitness, I am assuming she was oblivious that 10% of these kids will soon be sucked into some odd void by CPS and its “Children First “ crusaders. 25,000 students roughly are being affected by this layoff. This means that the students being affected by this layoff represent about 1-2% of the total 1,492,000 Illinois elementary students. In terms of Chicago, it is even scarier. If you divide the students up evenly, I figure there are about 270,000 elementary students in Chicago. This means that 8-9% of all students are being affected by this “correction” by CPS.

How is this COMPLETE disorganization not upsetting our state legislators? Where is Rahm, Quinn, Duncan, and Obama (His wife is dancing at CPS). How can you even begin to blame the CTU or teachers, or principals, for ALL of these mismanaged schools? This is a systematic FAILURE. We are all responsible. However, it seems like the least powerful players (teachers and students and families) are getting the blame for this mess. In fact, one of its old CEO’s was rewarded for complete mismanagement by being appointed to Secretary of Education. I equate this to a dysfunctional family sending it’s nephew form one bad aunt/uncle to another.

While teachers who had NO part in the Macro side of this debacle will lose their jobs because they chose to teach, and stick with, the most difficult schools in the city, this is their reward. Some may argue that CPS will put 50% teachers into the rehire pool for staffing restructures schools. I would take this promise with a grain of salt. Now CPS says it will use a PER PUPIL basis for funding schools? This doesn’t bode well for the veteran teachers who “make too much”. Do you think a newly formed school will hire a 80k a year teacher, if it can hire one for 55k? If you read your contract Satisfactory teachers and below are not eligible to be rehired. Assuming that their schools were probably run to the ground in many cases, can these reviews even be trusted?

Do you really think CPS will get a seamless transition to new schools for ALL students? I am guessing those children who were blessed with aggressive parents, will get into a better school. Students, as we all know, are traumatized by some of the most minor changes. Anyone who has ever taught in a classroom, obviously not Rahm, knows that shuffling students around will only create personal and school wide chaos.

I am also wondering what will become of these voids, that once were schools. It probably is best to just knock them down. I can’t really see what they are waiting for? I think Charters will get the population they are looking for. However, in about 10 years they will be the new “bad” guy, and will wish they would have stayed small.

Mr. Obama, have the guts to say you AGREE or DISAGREE with this unorganized Change. Change is needed, but not Chaos. Have the guts to defend or fight against this disaster. Yes children eating grapes instead of twinkies is important, but it means nothing to their health when they are nervous and depressed in the chaos that is sure to come. Don't tell me this is none of your business when your own wife came to promote "health and fitness". Well Mr. President, about 10% of CPS students will almost certaintly be suffering from permanent or temporary mental illiness from this CHAOS. I know you don't like teachers, but our families will suffer too. I hope I am wrong

PS: I voted for Obama (so this is not an anti-Obama comment....but rather and a disappointed voter)

Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

Who will get the vacant buildings????

CPS is probably waiting for enough empty buildings to do a bulk sale. Why else would these buildings sit vacant? They are obviously going to someone, but who???

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