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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.


October 31, 2012

Nearly a year after early childhood programs sent in their applications for Illinois’ first-ever early childhood capital funding program, the $45 million in construction grants have yet to be awarded.

Why the long delay? A large number of applicants and the difficulty of managing the state’s biggest capital spending program in a decade.

September 14, 2012

CPS officials have told a state legislative committee that they will expand the criteria for closing schools this year to include under-utilization, not just long-term academic failure.

Officials also have been going out to community action councils—CPS-organized groups of community stakeholders—and giving them lists of under-utilized, low-achieving schools, as if to prepare them for what might happen.

June 18, 2012

The Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, which has long been critical of CPS school closing and turnaround decisions, announced at its Monday meeting that schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard would attend the next task force meeting July 19.

State Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-4th Dist.) says the task force is also planning a "summit" in collaboration with the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. No date has been set, but Soto says the task force and committee will ask community members and CPS officials to join them.

February 17, 2012

Chicago has a school facilities problem.  Among its more than 600 public school buildings, 224 are enrolled at less than 50% capacity, according to the legislative task force established to examine the issue.  Many of these schools produce abysmal achievement results, and now CPS is attempting to manage its building inventory by taking certain school actions, including closing two underperforming, and under-enrolled, high schools, Crane and Dyett. 

February 06, 2012

SPRINGFIELD -  When Chicago catches a cold, the Illinois General Assembly coughs.

The state legislature has been hacking like a two-pack-a-day smoker over school actions in the Chicago Public Schools—closings, phase-outs, changes in attendance boundaries and other moves that critics say are disruptive for students and the surrounding neighborhoods.

(Find the district’s facilities plan online.)

January 24, 2012

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.

December 29, 2011

Half of all Chicago public schools are underused, based on a new building utilization formula unveiled Wednesday, the Sun-Times reports. And, four times more schools are underused than overcrowded under the formula, which includes charter schools.

December 15, 2011

As part of preparing a new $659 school construction and capital spending plan, officials used a new formula to determine school utilization. In the process, they determined that the district has 130,000 empty seats--a quarter of the seats available in schools throughout the city.

That figure, a result of the district’s declining enrollment, shows the extent of building under-utilization throughout CPS. Yet when deciding how to invest their capital improvement dollars, Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said Thursday that officials steered away from buildings that might be shut down in the next five to 10 years.

December 01, 2011

A state task force created to monitor decisions on school facilities in CPS passed a resolution Thursday asking Board of Education President David Vitale and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard to an open meeting to explain how they chose the 20 schools proposed for turnaround, closure or other action. 

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