WBEZ | Barbara Byrd-Bennett http://www.wbez.org/tags/barbara-byrd-bennett Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Schools on South, West sides left behind in CPS arts plan http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-south-west-sides-left-behind-cps-arts-plan-110464 <p><p>A report out this morning shows big disparities in arts education across Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>A sobering map on page 17 of the 44-page report highlights which Chicago communities are getting the most arts programming and which are getting the least. Most of the majority African American neighborhoods in the city are essentially arts education deserts.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ingenuity_StateoftheArts_BaselineReport-18.jpg" style="height: 625px; width: 400px;" title="A map from Ingenuity's report on the arts in Chicago Public Schools highlights where community arts partners provided arts programs throughout the district in 2012-13." /></div><p>In all, fewer than a quarter of all of the district&rsquo;s elementary schools reported meeting the district&rsquo;s recommended two hours of arts instruction per week.</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/Ingenuity_StateoftheArts_BaselineReport.pdf">Download the full report</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>Paul Sznewajs, the executive director of Ingenuity Incorporated, the arts-advocacy nonprofit that put out the report, stressed that it&rsquo;s meant to serve as a baseline for future years as his group begins to track the state of arts education. Ingenuity launched three years ago in tandem with the city&rsquo;s cultural plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel shortly after he took office.</p><p>The biggest test, Sznewajs said, is making sure the school district&rsquo;s arts education plan is fully implemented, even in the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/neighborhood-high-schools-again-take-hit-new-cps-budget-110444">face of steep budget cuts</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone always asks me, well, is it just about staffing, or is it just about partnerships, or is it just about the money? And the way we answer that truthfully is to say, it&rsquo;s about all of them,&rdquo; Sznewajs said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about any one piece of the pie, it&rsquo;s about making the whole pie bigger.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the report provides valuable data for district leaders to better direct resources.</p><p>For example, she said, CPS is adding 84 arts teachers and 84 physical education over the next two years with the help of $21 million in Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) money. &nbsp;Byrd-Bennett told reporters Tuesday that 89 of those positions are going to schools on the South Side, 54 are going to schools on the West Side and 32 will go to schools on the North Side. CPS officials have yet to release the list of specific schools benefiting from those positions, despite multiple requests by reporters.</p><p>John Perryman, an art teacher at Ortiz Elementary in South Lawndale, sits on the Chicago Teachers Union arts education committee and said he&rsquo;s troubled by the move to use more arts partners, like the Lyric Opera or the Merit School of Music, in place of teachers.</p><p>The report found that in the 2012-2013 school year, four percent of schools had an arts partnership, but no certified teacher. Perryman said that number likely rose in the most recent school year, with budget cuts and the switch to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-principals-get-more-flexibility-likely-less-money-budget-107560">student-based budgeting</a> forcing principals to make choices about every position and program they buy.</p><p>He also said the way CPS has added and then subsequently cut arts positions in recent years doesn&rsquo;t make much sense.</p><p>&ldquo;(For the longer school day), there were 100 positions created, then 100 positions cut and now for next year, they&rsquo;re adding 84 positions,&rdquo; Perryman said. &ldquo;This has created great instability in the field of arts education because teachers are getting fired and rehired.&rdquo;</p><p>The head of CPS&rsquo;s Department of Arts Education, Mario Rossero, stressed that the report only looks at about half of the district&rsquo;s schools. Many did not report their data in the first year, 2012-2013, the year the report is based on. Rossero said the most recent year saw an 89 percent response rate.</p><p>Wendy Katten of the parent group Raise Your Hand echoed what Rossero said and noted that in her group&rsquo;s tracking of budget cuts last year, 170 arts positions were lost.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;ll be interesting to see what these numbers look like for this year,&rdquo; Katten said.</p><p>Ingenuity is expected to put out an updated dataset with numbers from the most recent school year (2013-2014) sometime in November.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/schools-south-west-sides-left-behind-cps-arts-plan-110464 Neighborhood high schools again take hit in new CPS budget http://www.wbez.org/news/neighborhood-high-schools-again-take-hit-new-cps-budget-110444 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/byrd-bennett.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Tuesday July, 8 at 8:00 a.m.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Schools with more than $1 million slashed from their budgets are overwhelmingly the city&rsquo;s public neighborhood high schools.</p><p>Once seen as anchors in many communities, neighborhood high schools have seen enrollment decline dramatically in the past decade. The decline is a direct result of Chicago Public Schools opening more privately run charter high schools. Students now scatter to schools all over the city when they go to high school.</p><p>Enrollment declines in neighborhood high schools are driving huge budget cuts, because district officials switched the budgeting formula to rely more heavily on number of students attending. At some neighborhood high schools last year, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">freshman class was so small</a>, principals were barely able to hire enough teachers to cover core subject areas, much less offer any additional courses, like music or foreign language.</p><p>Last year CPS <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-enrollment-dip-doesnt-cost-principals-108781">held those schools harmless</a> when they enrolled fewer students than projected, but this year that practice ended.</p><p>Of the 26 schools seeing $1 million or more in cuts under the newly released CPS budget, 24 are high schools. Just two are elementary schools: De Diego and Disney Magnet. The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> reported yesterday that the principal and assistant principal of De Diego, which served as a receiving school for two schools that closed last year, were <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-wicker-park-school-principal-reassigned-20140701,0,2303804.story">recently removed from their posts</a>. It is unclear what is driving cuts at Disney Magnet; &nbsp;at the same time the total budget decreased, the school gained three positions. (<strong>A complete list of schools with the steepest cuts is below.</strong>)</p><p>When looking at schools where 10 or more positions were cut, neighborhood high schools are again hardest hit. Of the 25 schools losing 10 staff or more, 19 are high schools. Oddly, one of those, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, is a selective enrollment high school that draws from across the city. Lindblom Principal Alan Mather said he did not lose positions. But when looking closer at the school&#39;s report in CPS&#39;s interactive budget, he said it looked like a shift from janitors funded directly by the board to those provided through Aramark may be accounting for the seemingly large drop in positions. CPS officials did not respond when asked about how janitors are counted.&nbsp;</p><p>Six elementary schools -- Eberhart, Dodge, Lewis, Marquette, Cameron and Haley -- lost 10 or more positions. Three of those (Dodge, Lewis and Marquette) are run by the non-profit Academy of Urban School Leadership.</p><p>Although many schools suffered steep cuts, the overall &nbsp;budget for next year rings up at $5.7 billion, which is up $500 million from last year. The increase comes even as CPS is projecting a loss of about 100 students.</p><p>CPS officials released the proposed budget on Wednesday, just a day from the start of a holiday weekend. Officials gave reporters just four minutes to look over a Power Point presentation before holding a conference call to take questions. The complete budget was not posted until 8 p.m.</p><p>It remains unclear when and where the district will hold public hearings on the proposed budget.</p><p>In the conference call, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the overall increase is largely driven by ballooning pension payments to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The Fund&rsquo;s interim director, Jay Rehak, told WBEZ earlier in the week that CPS recently made its first full payment since 2010. In previous years, CPS paid smaller installments because of a three-year pension holiday granted by the state of Illinois.</p><p>Despite having to pay more into the pension fund after years of not doing so, Byrd-Bennett touted the district&rsquo;s ability to keep cuts away from classrooms this year.</p><p>Roughly $3.8 billion will go directly to schools, according to <a href="http://www.cps.edu/fy15budget/">budget documents</a>, an increase from last year&rsquo;s total of about $3.6 billion. Schools will receive an additional $250 per student this year, but much of that only covers staff salary increases.</p><p>Charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, will see an overall increase of $41 million, or about 10 percent. According to budget documents, the increase is not just from enrollment growth, but also an increase in the amount of money given to charters for every student they enroll.</p><p>A majority of the schools getting increases of $1 million or more are new and expanding charter schools, including six Noble Street high schools, two UNO schools, two Concept Schools, one LEARN school, &nbsp;Catalyst-Maria, Chicago International Charter School-Quest Campus.</p><p>CPS Budget Chief Ginger Ostro said the district faced a more than $800 million deficit in this year&rsquo;s budget. In order to close that deficit, officials are using an accounting trick that shifts when it counts the revenue coming in from property taxes. &nbsp;</p><p>Sarah Wetmore, vice president and research director with the Civic Federation, called the proposal &ldquo;not sustainable&rdquo; and said CPS must work with state lawmakers in Springfield to get pension reform in order to fix the structural problems.</p><p>It is also now the fifth year that CPS has relied on a one-time windfall of cash to balance its budget.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her&nbsp;</em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><strong>Schools with the biggest cuts ($1 million or more)</strong><br />1. Juarez HS<br />2. Hyde Park HS<br />3. Julian HS<br />4. Clemente<br />5. Richards<br />6. Hancock<br />7. Lakeview<br />8. Wells<br />9. Crane<br />10. Kelvyn Park<br />11. North Lawndale Charter<br />12. Harlan<br />13. Tilden<br />14. Amundsen<br />15. Farragut<br />16. Sullivan<br />17. Robeson<br />18. Kelly<br />19. Lincoln Park<br />20. Henry Ford Powerhouse<br />21. De Diego<br />22. Hirsch<br />23. Orr<br />24. Disney Magnet<br />25. Aspira &ndash; Ramirez<br />26. Fenger</p><p><strong>Schools that lost more than 10 positions</strong><br />1. Bogan<br />2. Hyde Park<br />3. Farragut<br />4. Amundsen<br />5. Hirsch<br />6. Crane<br />7. Harlan<br />8. Lincoln Park<br />9. Eberhart Elementary<br />10. Juarez<br />11. Orr<br />12. Clemente<br />13. Harper<br />14. Robeson<br />15. Julian<br />16. Dodge Elementary<br />17. Manley<br />18. Sullivan<br />19. Lewis Elementary<br />20. Marshall<br />21. Lindblom<br />22. Marquette Elementary<br />23. Carver<br />24. Cameron Elementary<br />25. Haley Elementary</p><p><em>*A previous version of this article stated that Jay Rehak was the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund&#39;s director. He is the interim executive director and president of CTPF&rsquo;s board of trustees. Kevin Huber is the executive director of the Fund and currently out on medical leave.</em></p></p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/neighborhood-high-schools-again-take-hit-new-cps-budget-110444 More than a thousand teachers and other staff laid off in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools officials told 550 teachers and 600 more school staff Thursday that they&rsquo;re out of a job.</p><p dir="ltr">The number of dreaded phone calls being made by principals is based on how many kids CPS officials project will show up on the first day next fall.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The staffing changes are driven most directly by declining student enrollment,&rdquo; CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters.</p><p dir="ltr">The number is significantly smaller than last year&rsquo;s nearly 3,000 layoffs, which were due mostly to the Board of Education&rsquo;s decision to close 50 schools.</p><p dir="ltr">More than <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713">800 teachers were laid off last June</a>, another <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">2,100 were let go in July</a> and nearly 100 were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/cps-issues-nearly-100-pink-slips-109078">released after the 20th day of school enrollment count</a> was taken in the fall.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS&rsquo;s Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler said, typically, about 60 percent of the staff let go over the summer find new jobs at other schools in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union, said it&rsquo;s still too many layoffs in a system already starved for resources.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It sort of like, hey, we cut the most we&rsquo;ve ever cut in the last two years and we cut a little less than that this year, so therefore, it&rsquo;s not so bad, doesn&rsquo;t seem reasonable, or accurate, or considerate to the families that are going to suffer a further reduction of the essentials that their children need and deserve,&rdquo; Potter said.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials say they have made adjustments at schools where enrollment dropped and core programs are in jeopardy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve made every single effort, whereever there was a decline, to make sure that the core academic program, as well as the enrichment programs could continue for next year,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said. &ldquo;But it is difficult for schools that have sustained substantial enrollment decreases to avoid staff impact. I mean, you can&rsquo;t get around that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, schools that lost enrollment were held harmless--meaning they could keep money budgeted to them even if the number of students who enrolled came in under what was projected. That will not continue this year.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials have said the complete fiscal year 2015 budget is set to be released in early July.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 18:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-thousand-teachers-and-other-staff-laid-chicago-110423 CPS softens strict discipline policies http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-softens-strict-discipline-policies-110396 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/voyce-signs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/june_25_2014_public_agenda_to_print.pdf">officially changing its Student Code of Conduct</a> so fewer kids get suspended and expelled.</p><p>The move comes after national data showed <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/education/black-students-face-more-harsh-discipline-data-shows.html">African American and Latino students being suspended at disproportionate rates</a>. Chicago was one of the worst offenders.</p><p>It&rsquo;s something CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she noticed when she first started working in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the strictest zero-tolerance policy that I&rsquo;ve ever seen in the country,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. &ldquo;We have a broad range of suspendable offenses. For example, we&rsquo;re the only major school district that allow(s) for out-of-school suspensions for cell phone use.&rdquo;</p><p>The new code of conduct eases up on allowable cell phone punishments, but a school may still suspend a student for using a cell phone in school if it &ldquo;seriously disrupts&rdquo; the environment.</p><p>Others changes include: eliminating suspensions in preschool through 2nd grade, requiring that a note goes home when a suspension is given out, and eliminating vague categories like &ldquo;persistent defiance&rdquo;. School officials said internal data showed the largest racial disparities for African Americans in the &ldquo;persistent defiance&rdquo; category. Officials did not make that data immediately available.</p><p>A student activist group that has worked for several years to eliminate zero-tolerance discipline called the move a step in the right direction, but argued more work needed to be done to reduce police presence in schools.</p><p>Shawn Brown, an organizer with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, said there is still a lack of resources at the school level to properly implement restorative discipline. He said &nbsp;the district&rsquo;s plan to train principals during a one-day workshop this summer is unrealistic.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not anyway to teach anyone about restorative justice,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not something you can do in one day.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS officials said there is no additional money in the budget for extra staff to focus on reducing suspensions and expulsions through restorative justice.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union also issued a statement calling for more support staff in schools, saying &ldquo;each school needs fully trained personnel to address any issues that students may have.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;These personnel should not be part of a third party vendor program or grant&mdash;they should be part of the permanent school staff,&rdquo; the statement read.</p><p>A WBEZ investigation in May <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/student-suspensions-numbers-110172">found more than 50,000 students</a> in CPS had gotten at least one out-of-school suspension. A dozen schools suspended more than half of their student body and nearly all are majority African American schools, serving 90 percent or more black students.</p><p>The investigation also found wide variation in how discipline plays out from school to school. Charter schools tended to suspend more students in elementary grades than district-run schools and schools run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership suspended large portions of their student bodies.</p><p>Charter schools authorized by CPS do not have to follow the district&rsquo;s Code of Conduct and many are known for having stricter environments. AUSL does have to follow the district&rsquo;s discipline policies, but Byrd-Bennett said there is no formal process when a school is out of compliance.</p><p>The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the proposed changes during Wednesday&rsquo;s monthly meeting.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 07:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-softens-strict-discipline-policies-110396 New alternative schools, some run by for-profit companies, come with hefty price tag http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated May 29, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.</em></p><p>The Chicago Board of Education is <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/may_28_2014_agenda_to_print.pdf">being asked to approve</a> $6 million in startup funds for alternative school programs today.<br /><br />The bulk of the money, about $4 million, will go to for-profit companies that just began working in the district last year.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is recommending seven new schools and four expansions. If approved, <a href="http://www.cameloteducation.org/">Camelot SAFE Schools</a> will open another school; <a href="http://www.ombudsman.com/">Ombudsman </a>will open a fourth school on the North Side; <a href="http://magicjohnsonbridgescape.com/">Magic Johnson Bridgescape</a>, run by Edison Learning, will get three new campuses; and Pathways in Education Illinois will add two more schools. The two existing Magic Johnson schools in North Lawndale and Roseland will expand, as will Banner West Academy and one of the existing Ombudsman campuses.</p><p>The seven new schools come with a collective $6,043,311 price tag.</p><ul><li>Camelot Schools = $2,014,437</li><li>Edison Learning (Magic Johnson Bridgescape)&nbsp; =&nbsp; $1,827,537</li><li>Pathways in Education = $1,431,958</li><li>Ombudsman = $769,379</li></ul><p>Those costs are entirely separate from the money all schools get for each student they enroll. When students begin enrolling, the new alternative programs will get the same amount of per student funding as other schools, plus about $1,000 per child in the first year.</p><p>The extra money appears to be a departure from past practice. In previous <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/actions/2012_08/12-0822-EX4.pdf">board</a> <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/actions/2012_08/12-0822-EX4.pdf">reports</a> approving alternative school programs there was no language regarding extra incubation and start-up funding.<br /><br />CPS Chief of Innovation and Incubation Jack Elsey said the &ldquo;incubation&rdquo; money pays the salary of a staff person or two involved in the planning process for a new school, usually a principal and lead teacher or assistant principal. The &ldquo;start-up funding&rdquo; covers things like furniture, computers and textbooks.</p><p>&ldquo;New schools need this additional funding in order to be successful,&rdquo; Elsey said.</p><p>That may not sit well with district schools facing yet <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140430/lincoln-square/amundsens-budget-down-1-million-as-enrollment-strategically-dips">another</a> <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140516/uptown/courtenay-school-council-votes-yes-on-budget-at-contentious-meeting">round</a> of <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140522/bucktown/drummond-montessori-refuses-pass-cps-budget">budget</a> <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140508/rogers-park/gale-academy-facing-310k-budget-cut-raising-money-for-classroom-books">cuts</a>.</p><p>School officials say there are more than 55,000 dropouts under 21 in the city.</p><p>&ldquo;I believe it&rsquo;s our collective responsibility as a district to find them and re-engage them and get them back into school,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said in a conference call with reporters Friday. &ldquo;The alternative is &hellip; these are the kids that will be on the street.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS data show more than 12,000 students enrolled in alternative schools last year. The overall capacity of alternative programs last year was 8,900, but since many students are not enrolled for a full year, the schools served more students than they had open spots. Next year, the number of open seats will be 11,400.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett plans to continue funding Student Outreach and Re-Engagement Centers in Garfield Park, Roseland and Little Village. Each of those centers has a $2.5 million budget and six people on staff, according to district spokesman Joel Hood.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to actively hit the pavement to find those kids and very often, they&rsquo;re no longer living where our records indicate,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said of re-enrolling dropouts.&nbsp;</p><p>The school operators being expanded this fall appeared to have struggled enrolling students early on last year. The two Camelot SAFE Schools had 37 students on the 20th day of school. CPS officials said that&rsquo;s because those two schools primarily enroll students with severe behavior problems who have been referred from traditional schools. Those referrals don&rsquo;t typically happen until later in the year.</p><p>Sue Fila, with Ombudsman Educational Services, said they had issues finding facilities and didn&rsquo;t open their second and third locations until October. Over the course of the year, they enrolled about half the number of kids their contract allowed.</p><p><em>Updated May 29, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. for clarification. A previous version of this article stated that alternative programs get about $1000 per student they enroll. They get the same amount that other schools in CPS get, which was between $4000 and $5000 per student last year, depending on the grade. Anytime a new school opens, CPS gives the school an addition amount, roughly $1000, for the first year.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 28 May 2014 09:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239 Teachers union: School closings brought broken promises for students http://www.wbez.org/news/education/teachers-union-school-closings-brought-broken-promises-students-110217 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG1290_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A year after Chicago&rsquo;s school board voted to close a historic 50 schools, the Chicago Teachers Union says the closings have resulted in broken promises.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools has spent more than $80 million in operational dollars related to school closings. The union has a <a href="http://www.ctunet.com/blog/new-ctu-report-analyzes-massive-public-school-closings-on-one-year-anniversary" target="_blank">report </a>out today that says just a tenth of that has made it to kids&rsquo; classrooms. Ninety percent went to things like security along school routes, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387" target="_blank">fees </a>to<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360"> moving companies</a>, and staff layoff costs.</p><p>In the lead-up to the school closings, school officials had promised to invest in so-called Welcoming Schools that would take in students from closed schools.</p><p>&ldquo;The entire rhetoric about the consolidations bringing more investments to classrooms, we&rsquo;re just not seeing that,&quot; says Pavlyn Jankov, a teachers union researcher and one of the report&rsquo;s authors. &quot;The resources aren&rsquo;t there. Librarians aren&rsquo;t there. Class sizes aren&rsquo;t decreasing....They promoted this as being something that will benefit students and bring more resources, and that&rsquo;s just not true.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>The union found CPS&nbsp; built libraries and science labs in receiving schools&mdash;part of&nbsp; $145 million in capital investments made to the schools&mdash; but didn&rsquo;t always staff them with librarians or science teachers. The report says the science lab at Dett Elementary on the West Side&nbsp; is being used as a fourth grade classroom. And it says teaching positions at the receiving schools have gone unfilled, especially for special education positions.</p><p>The report is based on public documents and interviews with teachers at seven receiving schools.</p><p>Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says the union&rsquo;s report &ldquo;deliberately misrepresents the facts.&rdquo;</p><p>Byrd-Bennett has touted improvements in attendance and grades as evidence the school closings process has been a success, though some of those <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2014/03/26/65825/cps-touts-minute-improvements-students-from-closed-schools">improvements are miniscule</a>. Attendance among children from closed schools, for instance, was up 0.3 percentage points between the first half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, from 92.7 percent to 93.0 percent.</p><p>When it comes to staffing, the district says principals have discretion to hire or bring in programs as needed at their schools.</p><p>The district&rsquo;s justification for closing 50 schools changed over time. Originally, it was for cost savings. Later, school officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it was to put students in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/few-chicago-school-closings-will-move-kids-top-performing-schools-107261" target="_blank">better schools</a>. They argued that resources saved from the closings could be reinvested in remaining schools. At the time of the closings, CPS admitted it would take two years to realize any cost savings from shutting down schools. It estimated that closing 54 schools would eventually save $43 million annually; that&#39;s slightly less than 1 percent of the district&#39;s current $5.6 billion annual budget.</p><p>The union&rsquo;s report says receiving schools are &ldquo;still disproportionately under-resourced compared to other elementary schools.&rdquo; Jankov says the school board&rsquo;s recent decision to &ldquo;turn around&rdquo; three schools by completely re-staffing them makes the union&rsquo;s report relevant today.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s still an issue, because they&rsquo;re still implementing the same kinds of policies where they push what they consider efficiencies down onto these schools on the South and West sides,&rdquo; Jankov said.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 May 2014 16:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/teachers-union-school-closings-brought-broken-promises-students-110217 Chicago principals say they operate under 'gag order' http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-principals-say-they-operate-under-gag-order-110167 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG1622web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago is pushing major changes to its schools&mdash;re-staffings, reorganized budgets, new charters. Through it all, Chicagoans have rarely heard from the people running the schools&mdash;the principals. Recently, some principals have broken what many say is a code of silence imposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s image-conscious schools administration. WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton reports.</p></p> Tue, 13 May 2014 03:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-principals-say-they-operate-under-gag-order-110167 CPS plans to shuffle schools to different buildings http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-plans-shuffle-schools-different-buildings-109269 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bill Healy 13.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/after-year-chicago-schools-could-be-safe-closure-5-years-104018">made a promise not to shut down any schools</a> for the next five years.</p><p>So far, she&rsquo;s keeping that promise.</p><p>But school officials today announced plans to essentially play musical chairs with a few schools and buildings next year. &nbsp;</p><p>Urban Prep-Bronzeville, 2710 S. Dearborn, would pack up and move a little further south to the old Doolittle West building, 521 E. 35th St., which currently houses the Chicago High School for the Arts, known as ChiArts. The performing arts high school already has plans to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/arts-school-take-over-one-chicagos-43-closed-school-buildings-109075">make a new home</a> at the closed Lafayette Elementary School building in Humboldt Park.</p><p>Frazier Prep Academy, 4027 W. Grenshaw, would move in with Herzl Elementary, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd, a few blocks west. Frazier currently shares with Frazier Prospective International Magnet, which will expand in the building on Grenshaw, adding 250 students next year and could grow to as many as 930 students in future years, CPS officials said.</p><p>There will be public meetings about both relocation proposals in January (schedule listed below) and the board will vote early next year.</p><p><strong><u>Urban Prep Relocation</u></strong></p><p><strong>First Community Meeting</strong></p><p>Thursday, Jan. 9</p><p>6:30 to 8:30 p.m.</p><p>Dunbar High School</p><p>3000 S. King Dr.</p><p><strong>Second Community Meeting</strong></p><p>Thursday, Jan. 16</p><p>6:30 to 8:30 p.m.</p><p>Dunbar High School</p><p>3000 S. King Dr.</p><p><strong>Public Hearing</strong></p><p>Thursday, Jan. 23</p><p>5:30 to 7:30 p.m.</p><p>CPS Central Office</p><p>125 S. Clark St.</p><p><u><strong>Frazier Prep Relocation</strong></u></p><p><strong>First Community Meeting</strong></p><p>Tuesday, Jan. 7</p><p>6:30 to 8:30 p.m.</p><p>Manley High School</p><p>2935 W. Polk St.</p><p><strong>Second Community Meeting</strong></p><p>Tuesday, Jan. 14</p><p>6:30 to 8:30 p.m.</p><p>Manley High School</p><p>2935 W. Polk St.</p><p><strong>Public Hearing</strong></p><p>Thursday, Jan. 23</p><p>8 to 10&nbsp;p.m.</p><p>CPS Central Office</p><p>125 S. Clark St.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Nov 2013 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-plans-shuffle-schools-different-buildings-109269 Parents lose fight to keep military school out http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-lose-fight-keep-military-school-out-109044 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/military school.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A group of Chicago parents lost a year-and-half battle to keep the city from converting their neighborhood middle school to a military academy.</p><p dir="ltr">At a press conference Tuesday at Marine Math and Science Academy on the West Side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel confirmed that Ames Middle School, in the Logan Square neighborhood, will become a military academy.</p><p dir="ltr">The mayor&rsquo;s office originally said Marine would be re-located to the Ames building, but school officials now say Marine is not moving.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said Wednesday that Ames will be &ldquo;another option for students who wish to pursue attendance at a military school.... And, it&#39;s likely that many students who live in the Ames community, but attend Marine, may choose to enroll there.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Ames principal is scheduled to stay on, one source told WBEZ. Ames school will be affiliated with the United States Marine Corps, as Marine Math and Science Academy is. And current Marine Math and Science students who want to transfer to Ames will not have to go through the normal application process, the source said.</p><p dir="ltr">About two-dozen Ames parents and students protested outside Tuesday&rsquo;s news conference. They said Ames is a school with deep roots in the neighborhood, with before- and after-school activities, a clinic and a lauded parent-mentor program--all built with community sweat.</p><p dir="ltr">The parents <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/logan-square-parents-we-want-voice-military-school-proposal-103597">long suspected</a> plans to convert Ames to a military academy were in the works&mdash;even before 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado publicly <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121126/logan-square/parents-protest-proposal-turn-ames-middle-school-into-marine-academy">proposed the idea</a>&mdash;but they were assured by school district officials that nothing would happen without their consultation.</p><p dir="ltr">The conversion of Ames to a military school will increase the number of military academy seats in Chicago Public Schools by 50 percent, according to the city.</p><p dir="ltr">The city has six military academies, more than any other school district in the country. The mayor touted higher-than-normal graduation and college-going rates for the schools in the announcement.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They are setting the standard for where we want the whole system to move,&rdquo; said Emanuel, who outlined the expansion of military academy seats as part of his strategy to give Chicago parents and students more choice. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The city says there is high demand for its military schools&mdash;six applications for every seat&mdash; though the current way high school applications work in Chicago tends to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/how-much-demand-there-chicago-charter-schools-no-one-knows-106418">exaggerate demand</a> for schools, with many students applying to multiple schools, including schools they don&rsquo;t actually plan to attend.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials said moving Marine to the Ames building was pushed by the alderman. A press release from the mayor&rsquo;s staff pointed out that Ames is under-enrolled and received the lowest of three grades Chicago gives to schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;(That) does heighten the sensitivity to making some change to try to improve that&mdash;we&rsquo;d like to have all our schools be Level 1 schools,&rdquo; said School Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz, who took questions about the decision. Ruiz said the alderman held public forums and conducted a &ldquo;professional poll&rdquo; that showed significant community support for the military academy. He said there are times when communities are divided over what they want. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But Ames parents said they&rsquo;d been lied to, citing a promise made at a December 2012 school board meeting.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/raw-audio-december-2012" target="_blank">There are no plans to change Ames Middle School into a military school</a>,&rdquo; School Board President David Vitale said then, telling Ames parents it wasn&rsquo;t necessary for them to come to every school board meeting to plead for their school&rsquo;s survival. &ldquo;Sometimes you have to stop listening to all the rumors in the neighborhood,&rdquo; Vitale told parents. &ldquo;And if you want, you can give me a phone call to find out if anything&rsquo;s changed.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS officials say Vitale said publicly that plans could be in the works at a subsequent school board meeting, in July.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">At that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-CiexfovUU">July meeting</a>, Ald. Maldonado presented a poll of 300 nearby-Ames residents which showed that 72 percent supported a military academy at Ames. &ldquo;The board looks forward to supporting you and your community with your objective,&rdquo; Vitale said then. &ldquo;We look forward to working with you and making this happen.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Ames parent Emma Segura was among those protesting the decision Tuesday. She said she has nothing against military schools in principle, but wondered about neighborhood students who can&rsquo;t get into the school&mdash;and lamented the loss of a bilingual program.</p><p dir="ltr">Segura said her son and nephew are both 7th graders at Ames, but worries that keeping the family together might not be possible when the military academy&rsquo;s more restrictive admissions policies take effect.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If one (child) stays here and then I have to send the other one (elsewhere), it&rsquo;s gonna be hard for me to cut myself in half and drive one here and the other one there. And for most parents that&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s gonna happen. If the kids don&rsquo;t get accepted to this school, where else can they take them?&rdquo; Segura wondered.</p><p dir="ltr">Marine Math and Science&rsquo;s website indicates that students applying for 9th grade need to attend an information session, meet minimum test-score requirements, have an &ldquo;A/B average,&rdquo; good conduct and be &ldquo;compliant with uniform policy.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The district said all current Ames students will be able to continue at the school, whether or not they meet Marine&rsquo;s admissions standards.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Ames building--constructed in 1993--will get $7 million in improvements before the military academy moves in. The money, from the city&rsquo;s Tax Increment Finance funds, will pay for new science and computer labs and classrooms for music and art.</p><p dir="ltr">Becky Vevea contributed reporting.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton and Becky Vevea cover education for WBEZ. Follow them <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 21:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-lose-fight-keep-military-school-out-109044 Hundreds march from CPS to City Hall in call for elected school board http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-march-cps-city-hall-call-elected-school-board-108552 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Boycott 1 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>This story was updated Thursday, 8.29.13</em></p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of people filled the sidewalk in front of the Chicago Public Schools central office downtown Wednesday morning, demanding that current school board members be fired and replaced by an elected school board.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;David Vitale, we don&rsquo;t recognize you as a board chairperson, Andrea Zopp, we don&rsquo;t recognize you as a school board member. You&rsquo;re fired,&rdquo; Jitu Brown shouted to the crowd.</p><p dir="ltr">Brown&rsquo;s Kenwood Oakland Community Organization was one of about a dozen community groups from around the city that organized yesterday&rsquo;s protest and CPS boycott. Brown said the Chicago demonstration was loosely connected to similar activities in 25 others cities around the country.</p><div><p dir="ltr">Organizers asked parents to take their children out of school for the day Wednesday to protest school closings and budget cuts that they say unfairly impacted poor and minority neighborhoods.</p></div><p>In a written statement on the boycott, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that removing children from the classroom &ldquo;is unacceptable.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Our students belong in the classroom with their teachers, getting the instruction they need,&rdquo; according to the statement.</p><p>But Diamond McCullough, a senior at Dyett High School on the South Side, said skipping a day of class to attend the protest wouldn&rsquo;t harm her education.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a school lesson right now,&rdquo; McCullough said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re learning more right now than &hellip; in school. This actually is like a history class for us.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ counted about 265 protesters outside CPS headquarters near the beginning of the rally yesterday, including 28 elementary-school-aged kids. Police put the number closer to 400, including a large group of reporters, photographers and camera operators. Organizers disputed both crowd numbers. They said the crowd grew throughout the morning, with 1,100 demonstrators at the protest&rsquo;s peak.</p><p>Jeanette Taylor took both of her kids out of school to attend the rally. She is chair of the Mollison Elementary Local School Council, where she has a third-grader and s sixth-grader. She said she was there with her children &ldquo;to send a message to CPS&rdquo; that Chicago needs an elected school board.</p><p>That&rsquo;s the only way to prevent more harmful school closings and cuts, Taylor said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s the same thing as your elected officials. If they don&rsquo;t do right by you, you remove them,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The rally was timed to coincide with the Board of Education&rsquo;s monthly meeting. After the meeting began inside, demonstrators marched four blocks north to Chicago City Hall and circled that building. Then, a group of about 55 went up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office to ask to meet with the mayor.</p><p>After an aide told them that Emanuel would not come out to meet them, the crowd filled the lobby with chants of &ldquo;come on out!&rdquo; and &ldquo;stop running.&rdquo;</p><p>Along with an elected school board, the demonstrators called for a moratorium on school closings and for the district to undo budget cuts at neighborhood schools.</p><p>Throughout this year&rsquo;s budget process, CPS has maintained that the district did everything it could to minimize school funding cuts.</p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left: -36pt;margin-right: -36pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-76d4794a-cabe-f599-d3cc-a2168f7b1c3a"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Patri <em> </em></span></span><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter. Follow him on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</em></p><p><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Aug 2013 14:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-march-cps-city-hall-call-elected-school-board-108552