WBEZ | Linda Lutton http://www.wbez.org/tags/linda-lutton Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en One quarter of CPS's $423M capital budget to be spent at just 3 schools http://www.wbez.org/news/education/one-quarter-cpss-423m-capital-budget-be-spent-just-3-schools-110132 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3523_board of ed-scr_6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is<a href="http://www.cps.edu/finance/Pages/FY15CapitalPlan.aspx" target="_blank"> unveiling a $423 million capital budget</a> today, and&nbsp; nearly a quarter of it is going to just three schools.</p><p>In a system with hundreds of school buildings, the lucky three schools are all selective enrollment high schools on the North Side. They&rsquo;re getting 23 percent of this year&rsquo;s capital budget.</p><p>Construction of the new $60 million Obama College Prep High School, an addition at Walter Payton, and repairs at Lane Tech add up to $98 million.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS spokesman Joel Hood says construction at Obama and Payton is only possible due to TIF funds. &quot;We&#39;re maximizing dollars that have been available to us,&quot; Hood says. &quot;That&#39;s why we actively go and seek outside revenue sources, to try and take care of all of our priorities.&quot;</p><p>And he says Lane is the district&rsquo;s largest school, enrolling more than 4,100 students. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very old building, it&rsquo;s a large building. The safety and structural needs there are great. This is certainly a project we&rsquo;ve had on our radar for a number of years, and this was the year we could address it,&rdquo; Hood said.</p><p>The capital budget is <a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Policies_and_guidelines/Documents/CapitalPlan/Five-YearPlan2014.pdffa" target="_blank">2.6 times higher this year than officials had projected it would be</a>. The district plans to issue $260 million in bonds to pay for it all. Officials say that will add $18 million annually to the cash-strapped district&rsquo;s debt payments.</p><p>The district says $91.4 million in TIF funds, $23.1 million in state grants, and an $8.9 million noise abatement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (to be used at Ebinger Elementary) round out the rest of the $423 million budget.</p><p>Three overcrowded schools&mdash;Edwards on the Southwest Side and Canty and Jamieson on the Northwest Side&mdash; are getting additions (that&rsquo;s in addition to Wildwood, which had been previously announced).</p><p>Edwards is considered to be 70 percent over capacity.</p><p>District official Todd Babbitz says that has meant &ldquo;classes in the school&rsquo;s basement, the attic, in mobile units and off-site branches.&rdquo;</p><p>Edwards parent Silvia Miranda says parents there feel&nbsp; &rdquo;fabulous. We&rsquo;re very excited with the news!&rdquo;</p><p>At one point Miranda and other moms threatened to physically block CPS from adding more mobile units at Edwards. And she says she felt frustrated by having to watch as more politically connected schools with less severe overcrowding got their additions first.</p><p>&ldquo;Now I can&rsquo;t wait to see them breaking the grounds (at Edwards)!&rdquo; Miranda said.</p><p>Other expenses in the capital budget include:</p><p>&bull; $20 million&mdash;4.7 percent of the capital budget&mdash; for air conditioning in 57 schools;</p><p>&bull; $18 million on buildings involved in controversial school changes, including three&nbsp; &ldquo;turnaround&rdquo; schools where all staff was fired last month and schools that will take in students from Ames Middle School, which is converting to a military high school;</p><p>&bull; $29 million to move central office information technology to the school district&rsquo;s new, smaller headquarters several blocks away.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 May 2014 17:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/one-quarter-cpss-423m-capital-budget-be-spent-just-3-schools-110132 At West Side Chicago school, kids go without teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-chicago-school-kids-go-without-teachers-109838 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lutton no teachers IMG_3500uriah white.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some of the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">high schools are shrinking</a>. In fact, some are <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/10/02/63600/neighborhood-high-schools-struggle-attract-students" target="_blank">shrinking </a>so dramatically, it&rsquo;s questionable whether students are getting access to a basic education.</p><p>Take the Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy on the city&rsquo;s West Side, where students have spent much of this year without key teachers.<br /><br />If you ask seniors Kendale Brice and Janiqua Johnson to list the teachers they&rsquo;re missing at Austin Business, it sounds like they&rsquo;re reading from a job board:<br /><br />&quot;We need a music teacher,&quot; Kendale says.</p><p>&quot;We need a Spanish teacher,&quot; Janiqua adds.</p><p>&quot;Last year we didn&rsquo;t have a Spanish teacher, so we had to take Spanish online,&quot; Kendale says.</p><p>&quot;We need a science teacher&mdash;which is biology and forensic science,&quot; says Janiqua. &quot;We need an English teacher for juniors and seniors.&quot;&nbsp;<br /><br />Keyshawn Fields, a junior slated to take the ACT exam next month, says he had a biology teacher &ldquo;for maybe three weeks at the beginning of the year, then she was gone.&rdquo; Music and Spanish&mdash;requirements for graduation&mdash;are offered online only, students say.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s hard, because sometimes some students (are) physical learners&mdash;like, they need to be in person with a teacher, and that doesn&rsquo;t help being online,&rdquo; says senior Moeisha Webb, who&rsquo;s in the online music class.<br /><br />WBEZ interviewed a dozen students at Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, and all of them told the same story. Their core courses in English and science have been taught mostly by substitutes this year&mdash;sometimes a different substitute every day&mdash;meaning no homework, and often no classwork.&nbsp; One student said students are passed automatically since there are no teachers.<br /><br />The school&rsquo;s principal, Wayne Issa, says Austin Business has been hit by a string of teachers out on disability leaves&mdash;something he has no control over. Three teachers took other jobs. He says it&rsquo;s hard to fill temporary positions. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had people tell me, &lsquo;I&rsquo;d rather sub (day-to-day) and not be responsible for teaching,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />But there&rsquo;s another problem: Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy is a school that&rsquo;s been losing enrollment. And its tiny size&mdash;186 students total&mdash;exacerbates its problems.<br /><br />&ldquo;What happens is the school is so tiny, that when there are absences, it&rsquo;s felt throughout the school. For instance, I only have one science teacher. So if I had a science department, it would be easier to absorb one teacher being gone,&rdquo; says Issa.<br /><br />The students notice. &ldquo;We have like 40 seniors. That&rsquo;s not a senior class, that&rsquo;s a classroom,&rdquo; says Kendale Brice.<br /><br />Austin Business&rsquo; freshman class has even fewer students&mdash;31. With Chicago&rsquo;s move to per pupil budgeting, it&rsquo;s unclear whether such a small school will be able to afford the minimum seven teachers a high school usually needs&mdash;or even stay in business.<br /><br />Issa says he has the money for English and science teachers, but he says enrollment is a concern.<br /><br />&ldquo;With the amount of high schools we have there&rsquo;s definitely competition amongst those. And with student population declining&hellip;with more choice for parents to go to different places, it just makes sense that (enrollment) is going to go down,&quot; said Issa. &quot;Recruitment is becoming one of the skills that principals like me need to be able to engage in&hellip; in order to exist.&rdquo;<br /><br />Michael Bakalis, president of American Quality Schools, a nonprofit charter school operator that <a href="http://articles.chicagobreakingnews.com/2011-02-24/news/28629449_1_american-quality-schools-elementary-schools-phyllis-lockett" target="_blank">used to run</a> Austin Business and Entrepreneurship, says he tells parents or communities interested in starting a school that they need a minimum number of students to function.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s unlikely you&rsquo;re going to be able to survive financially and do everything you should be doing unless you have about 200-250 kids to start,&rdquo; Bakalis says. &ldquo;And then probably build it up to at least 400 or 500 eventually.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bakalis&rsquo; group used to run Austin Business as a &ldquo;contract&rdquo; school. American Quality Schools gave up the school three years ago, and <a href="http://www.austinweeklynews.com/News/Articles/3-9-2011/Academy%27s-fate-tangled-in-confusion--/" target="_blank">CPS has run it since</a>.<br /><br />Some people believe there are simply too many high schools in Chicago. A West Side charter high school, Chicago Talent Development, announced this year it is phasing out, unable to attract enough students. Other schools with low enrollments are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834" target="_blank">skimping on teachers, activities and electives</a>.<br /><br />And even new schools like Austin Business&mdash;which was started as a Renaissance 2010 school after CPS closed down Austin High School in 2004 for poor performance&mdash;are challenged. All three schools that opened in the Austin High building under Renaissance 2010 are struggling to attract kids, and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-01-28/news/ct-poverty-swinney-met-20140128_1_innovation-park-austin-polytechnical-academy-west-side" target="_blank">struggling to keep promises of a better education</a>. One of the schools, Austin Polytechnical Academy, had to write a grant this year to be able to pay for a college counselor; per pupil funding from CPS did not cover the cost.<br /><br />But ironically, Chicago is adding high schools. The district recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">approved seven new charters</a>&mdash;five of them with high school seats&mdash;meaning students will be spread even thinner across schools like Austin. The district has said it will not close any schools for five years.<br /><br />Uriah White, a junior at Austin Business, is livid that he&rsquo;s had no science or English teachers this year.<br /><br />&ldquo;This ACT thing is very serious for me,&rdquo; says White. &ldquo;This third year is my most important year: (for the) ACT,&nbsp; (to) see what colleges would want me for their schools. But the way it&rsquo;s looking now&mdash;&rdquo; he groans. &ldquo;I know for sure it&rsquo;s going to be a very short few amount of colleges that are going to want any of the kids from Austin.&rdquo;<br /><br />Uriah says he took a science book home to study on his own.<br /><br />Junior Keyshawn Fields says he will tackle the English portion of the ACT &ldquo;just off instincts.&rdquo;&nbsp; But the science portion, he says, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going in there blind.&rdquo;<br /><br />Two school days after WBEZ interviewed students, Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy said it had filled all open teaching positions&mdash;except for one that was vacated Friday.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-chicago-school-kids-go-without-teachers-109838 Saucedo teachers spend Day 1 of ISAT teaching; concerns raised about intimidation http://www.wbez.org/news/saucedo-teachers-spend-day-1-isat-teaching-concerns-raised-about-intimidation-109815 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG2400.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy declared victory Tuesday, saying their protest of the state&rsquo;s Illinois Standards Achievement Test is working. The teachers said they spent the first day of ISAT testing doing what they set out to&mdash;teaching.</p><p>A week ago, teachers at the Little Village school voted unanimously to refuse to give the exam, which normally carries high stakes in Chicago but is being phased out this year. The school district has said boycotting teachers could lose their jobs or even their teaching certificates.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very, very happy to say today was a victory,&rdquo; said special education teacher Sarah Chambers after the final bell rang at Saucedo on the first scheduled day of testing there. &ldquo;Overall it went smoothly. The kids who were opting out had the test placed in front of them and they were immediately removed to an opt-out room, where teachers who were refusing to give the test&mdash;the boycotting teachers&mdash;were able to teach them,&rdquo; said Chambers.</p><p>Social studies teacher Ferris Akrabawi&nbsp; said he led students in readings from Mahatma Gandhi&#39;s 1922 trial for sedition. &ldquo;One person&rsquo;s insubordination is another person&rsquo;s&hellip; cry for change,&rdquo; Akrabawi says he taught students.</p><p>But the teachers and activists also decried what they said were heavy-handed tactics on the part of schools to try to get students to take the ISAT. <em>Hear more about this by pushing PLAY above.</em></p><p>Chambers said at Saucedo, some parents who had opted their children out of testing rescinded their opt-out letters after getting calls from the school. She said some teachers who had originally voted to boycott the exam ended up administering it, fearing for their jobs.</p><p>In other parts of the city, a teacher from Otis Elementary in West Town said opt out forms signed by parents weren&rsquo;t respected, and kids were given the test anyway. A dad from Jane Addams Elementary on the Southeast Side said his nine-year-old daughter had to watch classmates eat candy and ice cream after they took their test; kids who opted out didn&rsquo;t get any.</p><p>Chicago Teachers Union vice-president Jesse Sharkey said it was &ldquo;child abuse&rdquo; to put test booklets in front of students whose parents had opted them out of the test. Because state law requires the test be given to all students, some schools handed out test booklets and had teachers read instructions, even to kids who had opted out. Opt out advocates say that put kids as young as eight years old in a situation where they had to choose whether to follow their parent&rsquo;s instruction to skip the test or their teacher&rsquo;s instruction to complete it.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re hearing all these accounts of bullying,&rdquo; Chambers said. &ldquo;Why is this occurring? It&rsquo;s occurring because our CPS is controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And he is a bully.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS parent Cassie Creswell urged the mayor and school officials to be more sensitive to the demands of parents. Creswell said Emanuel had effectively opted his own children out of the ISAT by enrolling them in a private school that gives few standardized tests.</p><p>The district did not respond to questions about particular incidents at schools, but CPS says it won&rsquo;t tolerate acts to coerce or intimidate students into taking the ISAT.</p><p>However, officials say they are in conversations with the state about disciplining the boycotting teachers.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Parents want the right to opt their children out of testing</strong></p><p>On Monday, two dozen Chicago parents filed a complaint asking the American Civil Liberties Union to determine whether parental rights are being violated when it comes to opting their children out of the the ISAT.</p><p>&ldquo;Parents are being asked to rescind their opt out letters, children are being told to call up their parents and opt them back in&mdash;egregious violations of parental rights, egregious mistreatment of children,&rdquo; said Creswell, who is part of the anti-testing group that has spearheaded the opt out effort in Chicago, More Than a Score. The group advocates for less standardized testing in schools.</p><p>But the Illinois State Board of Education says there is no legal mechanism in state law for parents to opt their children out of the federally required accountability exam. All schools must test all third through eighth graders, the state says. Illinois law does allow for students to &ldquo;refuse to engage&rdquo; with a test. Students must be offered the test,&nbsp; but they can refuse it and sit quietly through the testing process, or, if a district allows, read a book during the test, the state board says.</p><p>The state has encouraged parents to have their children take the ISAT. &ldquo;Testing is another point of information that educators can use about children,&rdquo; Illinois State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch said. Scores this year will give an indication of how well students are performing against new Common Core standards, he said.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is not saying how many students have opted out of the ISAT; activists say it&rsquo;s at least 1,500 kids at 80 schools. Some 171,000 Chicago students were scheduled to take the ISAT.</p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 15:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/saucedo-teachers-spend-day-1-isat-teaching-concerns-raised-about-intimidation-109815 Test protest: Chicago teachers say they'll refuse to give ISAT http://www.wbez.org/news/test-protest-chicago-teachers-say-theyll-refuse-give-isat-109772 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr-by reallyboring saucedo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Protesting what they say is too much standardized testing in schools, teachers at Saucedo Scholastic Academy declared Tuesday they will refuse to administer the state-mandated Illinois Standards Achievement Tests that are scheduled to begin next week.</p><p>&ldquo;This has been building. We&rsquo;ve been discussing this for a long time, and we finally said enough is enough,&rdquo; special education teacher Sarah Chambers told reporters at a frigid Tuesday afternoon news conference outside the school, where she was joined by fellow teachers, supportive parents and students, and&nbsp; Chicago Teachers Union officials.</p><p>Chambers said &ldquo;about 40&rdquo; Saucedo teachers scheduled to administer the ISAT voted in a secret ballot referendum Tuesday morning to boycott the test, and &ldquo;every teacher voted to refuse to give the test&mdash;100 percent. Unanimous,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The action could cost Saucedo teachers their jobs.</p><p>The teacher boycott is a new development in a growing backlash against testing in Chicago public schools&mdash;most of it led by parents up to now.</p><p>The ISAT has become a target this year because it&rsquo;s being phased out. In Chicago&mdash;where the exam usually carries especially high stakes&mdash; scores won&rsquo;t count for school or teacher ratings, student promotions, or admission to selective schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Teachers at Saucedo say they were bolstered by the 320 parents at the school who have yanked their kids from the test. Jason Reese is one of them. His seventh-grade daughter sat in the passenger seat of the family&rsquo;s minivan at dismissal, reading her second novel of the week. Reese says he opted his children out of the ISAT because &ldquo;they&rsquo;re constantly taking tests over and over again. They need to get more instruction in the classroom as opposed to being tested for everything that they do.&rdquo;</p><p>The parent group &ldquo;More than a Score&rdquo; has encouraged parents to have their kids skip the test. The group says parents at 38 different schools have opted their children out so far. The &ldquo;CORE&rdquo; caucus within the teachers union, which currently controls the union, has also been running a campaign to encourage parents to opt their children out.</p><p>But the district has defended the exam. Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has sent letters home to parents asking them not to pull their children out of the test. It will &ldquo;help teachers tailor instructional planning for the following year,&rdquo; the district said in an emailed statement. The test will also give them a taste of questions aligned to the state&#39;s new &ldquo;Common Core&rdquo; curriculum.</p><p>The Illinois State Board of Education believes this is the first time a group of teachers has refused to give the state-mandated exams. A Seattle high school gained national attention last year when teachers there refused to give a standardized test. In late 2002, teachers at Curie Metropolitan High School in Chicago said they would refuse to give a district-mandated exam that was unpopular with teachers, the Chicago Academic Standards Exam. CPS eventually ditched it.</p><p>Teachers union vice president Jesse Sharkey called the Saucedo teachers &ldquo;courageous&rdquo; and &ldquo;principled&rdquo; and said he hopes more schools follow suit in the coming days. The union said it would &ldquo;strongly defend&rdquo; Saucedo teachers from any discipline, which Sharkey admitted could include dismissal, though he said it would be &ldquo;absurd&rdquo; for the district to fire teachers &ldquo;for insisting on the right to teach&mdash;which is what they&rsquo;re really doing.&rdquo;</p><p>The union has opposed the widening use of student standardized testing in the district; some of that testing helps determine teachers&rsquo; performance ratings.</p><p>In a statement, CPS said &quot;district employees that fail to execute their job responsibilities face appropriate disciplinary actions.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 05:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/test-protest-chicago-teachers-say-theyll-refuse-give-isat-109772 Chicago Board of Ed: Downsized headquarters, supersized contract, and military school http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-ed-downsized-headquarters-supersized-contract-and-military-school-109410 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/board of ed (2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><strong><em>Chicago&rsquo;s school board approved a number of measures at the monthly board meeting Wednesday:</em></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><strong>New district headquarters</strong></p><p dir="ltr">District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told board members that five years of cutbacks have shrunk the district&rsquo;s central office staff by 34 percent, and CPS is operating in more space than it needs.</p><p dir="ltr">Byrd-Bennett compared the need to downsize to the closing of 50 schools. &ldquo;Both the underutilization of schools and the underutilization of central office have stretched our limited resources. We could not continue to throw money after half-empty schools,&rdquo; she told board members. &ldquo;And likewise, we can no longer afford to support a half empty building here at 125 S. Clark.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Byrd Bennett said the district looked at 86 options and determined that moving around the corner to three floors on 1 N. Dearborn was the best one. A district press release says CPS will save $60 million over 15 years by moving.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Logistics contract triples</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The board also approved a significant increase in the amount it is paying to empty out Chicago&rsquo;s closed schools.</p><p dir="ltr">The original moving &nbsp;and logistics contract with Global Workplace Solutions, inked in April, was for $8.9 million. But <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364">as WBEZ first reported</a>, the contract was quietly amended in September and increased to $18.9 million. The new contract could be for up to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387">three times the original amount</a>&mdash;$30.9 million.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials say that despite the overruns on the logistics contract, the overall cost of closing a historic number of schools will remain within budget&mdash;$78 million this year, not including capital costs. (In addition to the logistics contract, the $78 million includes things like &ldquo;principal transition coordinators&rdquo; who were assigned to help ease the transition between closing and receiving schools and &ldquo;integration&rdquo; events for the consolidating schools.)</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been able to move things around&mdash;as we discovered&mdash;a little bit more here, &nbsp;a little bit less there, so it&rsquo;s gonna end up in balance,&rdquo; CPS school closings czar Tom Tyrrell explained to board members.</p><p dir="ltr">Tyrrell said there&rsquo;s an &ldquo;emerging requirement that is time sensitive&rdquo; to board up and secure more schools than the district initially thought would be necessary. He says the district is avoiding costs for new books and furniture by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">repurposing items from closed schools</a>, but that takes investment to inventory and sort items on the front end.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Ames Middle School&rsquo;s conversion to a military academy high school is approved</strong></p><p dir="ltr">In an unusual divided vote, the school board voted 5-2 to approve a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/parents-lose-fight-keep-military-school-out-109044">controversial plan to change Ames middle school to a military academy</a> affiliated with the U.S. Marine Corps.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman Roberto Maldonado was the plan&rsquo;s key backer, and he made his final case before board members at the meeting, saying he had worked to &ldquo;scientifically verify&rdquo;&mdash;with a telephone poll of 300 residents&mdash;that there was overwhelming support for his plan.</p><p dir="ltr">Ames Middle School is currently unpopular, he said, with just half of nearby kids electing to go there.</p><p dir="ltr">Maldonado presented himself as both a peace activist and a supporter of the military and military schools. He said he had protested the Viequez military base in Puerto Rico, and he promised that the new school would &ldquo;not be a training ground for sending our children to enlist in the military when they graduate.&rdquo; But he also brought fellow Alderman James Balcer&mdash;a Marine Corps vet&mdash;to speak in favor of the school. &ldquo;Sempre fidelis,&rdquo; Balcer said at the end of his statement.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Ames is a beautiful campus and it&rsquo;s perfect expanded into a high school for the kids of that community so that they will have an opportunity to go to college,&rdquo; said Maldonado. &ldquo;I want my kids&mdash;the children from my community that look like me, brown faces that look like me&mdash;to have an opportunity to go to college.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Ames parents begged the school board to listen to parents, not politicians. They said the alderman has disparaged Ames. One mother, Emma Segura, held a tape recorder up to the microphone and played a voicemail message:</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1387483231-0" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Click to listen to the voicemail.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><blockquote><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>&quot;Hello, the Chicago Public Schools recently sent a letter about moving your child to Ames Middle School, a gang infested school at Armitage and Hamlin, up to two miles away.</em></p></blockquote><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>They say your school is too crowded, so the only choice is to move your child to Ames, a gang-infested school where all students must go through a metal detector every morning. There&rsquo;s a public hearing Monday, April 15, at Schurz High School, at 5pm.</em></p></blockquote><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>This is the only chance to voice opposition to moving your child to gang-infested Ames Middle School, at Armitage and Hamlin, where all students must go through a metal detector every single morning. If you can attend this hearing, please press 7.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>If you&rsquo;d like someone to follow up with a phone call to give you more information, please press 8. Thank you.&quot;</em></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Maldonado&rsquo;s office denies any connection to that call.</p><p dir="ltr">The conversion of Ames will push some middle school kids to Kelvyn Park High School. Ames parents said that&rsquo;s no place for younger kids.</p><p dir="ltr">Board members Carlos Azcoitia and Mahalia Hines opposed Ames&rsquo; conversion to a military school.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Lincoln Elementary annex moves forward</strong></p><p dir="ltr">The board also approved an $18 million annex to Lincoln Elementary in Lincoln Park. The annex is controversial because it puts Lincoln, with well-heeled and politically connected parents, ahead of dozens of other schools that <a href="http://www.cps.edu/qualityschools/pages/data.aspx">by CPS&rsquo; own standards</a> are more overcrowded. Parents and community members who oppose the annex&mdash;because it snatches up part of the playground and calls for a much larger school, or because they believe other schools are needier &mdash;have argued the district could solve the overcrowding problem at Lincoln by adjusting the attendance boundaries of nearby schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Alderman Michele Smith told board members the need for the annex was &ldquo;indisputable,&rdquo; and that she was &ldquo;embarrassed and astounded&rdquo; by those who opposed it. &nbsp;Smith said redrawing boundaries would &ldquo;force students out of this outstanding school.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Board members regularly hear <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-21/news/ct-school-board-meets-met-1121-20131121_1_edwards-elementary-schools-ceo-barbara-byrd-bennett-lincoln-elementary">testimony from overcrowded schools</a> on the northwest and southwest sides, many surrounded by other schools in the same situation. Parents from those schools have argued that their children deserve an addition as much as kids from Lincoln Park.</p><p dir="ltr">Board president David Vitale said overcrowding was &ldquo;an issue that will continue to plague us.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The resources are in fact limited; the complexity of prioritizing is difficult,&rdquo; Vitale said in closing the meeting. &ldquo;But I have visited these schools, I visited Canty, I sat in that auditorium while kids ate their lunch. And there&rsquo;s nobody more than me that would like to solve their problem. But we need to go through a proper prioritization process and spend the resources we have in the best way possible.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The district&rsquo;s 10-year Master Facilities Plan, passed in September, was supposed to do that.</p><p dir="ltr">Vitale says he hopes for a clearer prioritization process by the time the district draws up its next capital budget, which will be within the next six months.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on Twitter @WBEZeducation.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-ed-downsized-headquarters-supersized-contract-and-military-school-109410 Hearing attracts charter supporters, some who do not know what they are supporting http://www.wbez.org/news/hearing-attracts-charter-supporters-some-who-do-not-know-what-they-are-supporting-109392 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/charter hearing_131217_LL.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Hundreds of charter school supporters packed a Chicago Public Schools headquarters room for a hearing Monday night that was scheduled to last four and a half hours.</p><p dir="ltr">The district is considering applications for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2013/12/13/64669/charter-schools-propose-big-expansion">21 new charter schools</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Supporters at the hearing included current charter school students and families, and community residents like Jose Garcia, who told a lone hearing officer, &ldquo;I am fed up with the public school system, that they&rsquo;re not improving.&rdquo; Garcia was there to support a proposal by the charter network Concept Schools, which runs three schools in Chicago and is proposing two more, in Chatham and Chicago Lawn.</p><p dir="ltr">Concept runs schools serving 12,000 students in seven states in the Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">But some of the group&rsquo;s supporters, wearing light blue &ldquo;Concept Schools&rdquo; T-shirts, did not seem to know what they were there for.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">LUTTON: Excuse me, are you all from a certain community group or anything?</p><p dir="ltr">WOMAN: It&rsquo;s just ah, the Chattam Company&mdash;what is it, ah&hellip; steam? Steam? [<em>pointing</em>]&nbsp;She should know, right here. She got the piece of paper, right here.</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Their confusion made the scene at times reminiscent of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/paid-protesters-new-force-school-closings-debate-95792">2012 rent-a-protester scandal</a>, where <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-02-13/news/ct-met-emanuel-consulting-firm-20120213_1_education-agenda-consulting-firm-mayor-rahm-emanuel">a political consulting firm with close ties to Mayor Rahm Emanuel funded pastors to support the mayor&rsquo;s schools agenda</a>.The pastors <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/10140605-418/two-say-they-got-paid-to-protest.html">paid protesters</a> to support school closings.</p><p dir="ltr">Supporters Monday night said they came on three buses from the Inner City Youth and Adult Foundation at 45th and Michigan. The charter schools they advocated for were several miles away, in Chatham and West Lawn.</p><p dir="ltr">Michael Vassar works at the Inner City Youth and Adult Foundation. He says his own children are grown, but he says his family has ties to Chatham, and they plan to pull younger nieces and nephews out of their current CPS schools to attend the proposed Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) -focused school Concept is proposing--if it&rsquo;s approved.</p><p dir="ltr">Vassar described the Inner City Youth and Adult Foundation as &ldquo;a grassroots organization that works in Bronzeville. We deal with teenagers and at-risk men and women for homes and jobs&hellip;. We come out and do grassroots work in the community, and the Concept Schools is one of the agencies we&rsquo;re working with now.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">A handful of opponents also turned out for the hearings. They included a CPS assistant principal, who didn&rsquo;t want to give his name.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If a charter school opens, then the funding that would be coming to the schools in the neighborhood will be going to charter schools instead of to the public schools,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Jack Elsey, the CPS official who oversees the new schools process, says community input at Monday&rsquo;s hearing and others will go into the district&rsquo;s calculus of which charters should open. Originally, the district asked for proposals to help relieve overcrowding on the southwest and northwest sides, but not all the applications stick to those guidelines.</p><p dir="ltr">The board of education is expected to vote on new charter schools in January. Any school applications &nbsp;the district turns down could be appealed to the state&rsquo;s charter authorization commission for approval. The commission approved two Concept Schools last year that the city had rejected.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hearing-attracts-charter-supporters-some-who-do-not-know-what-they-are-supporting-109392 More overruns: Cost to empty out closed Chicago schools now set to triple http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cps overruns_131217_LL.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s board of education will consider yet another significant increase in what it is paying to empty out Chicago&rsquo;s closed school buildings.</p><p>Back in April&mdash;even before the vote to close 50 schools&mdash;the district <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_04/13-0403-PR2-1.pdf">signed a contract</a> with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions to move all the things out of schools. Price tag: $8.9 million.</p><p>GWS worked throughout the summer to inventory and move computers, books, furniture and other supplies from closed schools into so-called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/ex-marines-mission-make-sure-cps-welcoming-schools-are-welcoming-108501">Welcoming Schools</a>.</p><p>In September, the district<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364"> quietly doubled the amount of the contract</a>, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; closing czar said the reason for the overrun had to do with the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">volume </a>of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out.</p><p>Now, the agenda for Wednesday&rsquo;s school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to &nbsp;$30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.</p><p>A CPS document says the hike is necessary to board up, fence, and install security posts around 30 buildings.</p><p>And it will cover the cost of redistributing materials around the district. Elementary school principals have been told not to purchase any more books until the district holds <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">an online book fair in January. It&rsquo;s trying to get rid of a million books it has from the closing schools</a> and its warehouse.</p><p>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 06:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387 Cost to empty out closed schools doubles http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cps movers_131213_LL.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Removing everything from Chicago&rsquo;s closed schools will cost $10 million more than the district originally signed on for.</p><p>The price tag for moving desks, chairs, books, computers, and everything else out of 43 shuttered school buildings is now <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_08/13-0828-PR10-1.pdf">$18.9 million dollars</a>, more than double <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_04/13-0403-PR2-1.pdf">the original $8.9 million dollar contract</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/ex-marines-mission-make-sure-cps-welcoming-schools-are-welcoming-108501">Tom Tyrrell</a> is the Chicago Public Schools official overseeing school closings. He says one thing explains cost overruns:</p><p>&ldquo;The volume of stuff that we ended up moving was three times higher than we estimated it was going to be. It was stunning how much more was in the schools than we anticipated.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>CPS hired the Ohio-based logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions in April to <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/4_3_2013_PR2.aspx">handle </a>the massive move. At the end of August, just as school was starting, Chicago&rsquo;s board of education voted to <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/actions/2013_08/13-0828-PR10.pdf">increase </a>the maximum spending allowed on the logistics contract, and the district quietly amended the contract in mid-September to pay GWS $10 million more. The increase has not been reported in the media.</p><p>The contract amendment shows GWS spent more than expected on boxes and other moving materials; warehousing, disposal and liquidation of district assets; board-ups; and IT needs.</p><p>Costs went up by $850,000 when students from closed schools <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/only-60-percent-students-chicagos-closed-schools-turn-welcoming-schools-108907">enrolled in schools other than those the district had designated</a>.</p><p>Tyrrell says CPS has made use of the movers to handle additional work, like 11 new &ldquo;co-locations&rdquo; where two or more schools share the same building. &nbsp;And he says other costs associated with closings are coming in under budget. Tyrrell says the overall costs of closing the historic number of schools &mdash; which includes things like transition coordinators, &ldquo;integration&rdquo; events between closing and receiving schools, and social-emotional learning programs &mdash; will remain unchanged at $78 million.</p><p>WBEZ took a closer look at the moving contract thanks in part to a <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/">Curious City</a> <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/988">question</a>. Listener Jenn Adams asked what happened to all the stuff in the closed schools. See our full answer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicago%E2%80%99s-closed-schools-109360" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 23:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364 New Illinois school report cards mean less data http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-school-report-cards-mean-less-data-109118 <p><p>Illinois education leaders have been <a href="http://www.isbe.net/news/2013/oct23.htm" target="_blank">touting </a>the state&rsquo;s new &ldquo;report cards&rdquo; for schools, saying the redesigned report cards make it easier for parents to understand how schools are doing, and add information that rounds out the public&rsquo;s picture of their schools.</p><p>But in the week since the report cards have been out, parents, journalists and advocates have noticed that other important Illinois school data&mdash;and an interactive web site that made the information accessible&mdash;have disappeared. Complaints from schools about the missing data are prompting the state to re-publish the prior web site along with the new report card site, which cost $600,000 and took years to develop.</p><p>There are 4,000 schools in Illinois, and for each one, the state collects thousands of bits of data&mdash;information about student race, teacher salaries, average class size. Test scores sliced and diced dozens of ways. Altogether, it adds up to millions of little facts about Illinois schools.</p><p>And for just over a decade there was a web site called the Illinois Interactive Report Card&mdash;formerly at http://iirc.niu.edu&mdash;that took all that data and made it understandable to regular people.</p><p>&ldquo;It had an array of tools that allowed you to compare schools and school districts across the state very, very easily,&rdquo; says George Clowes, senior fellow with the Heartland Institute and former editor of <a href="http://heartland.org/issue-archive/school-reform-news">School Reform News</a>. Clowes says it was easy to pick criteria and then see how a particular school or district stacked up.</p><p>&ldquo;It was one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand, two thousand, three thousand words. You could see very quickly how that district sat and what the picture was statewide.&rdquo;</p><p>But last week, when Illinois switched to a new parent friendly report card&mdash;<a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com/" target="_blank">illinoisreportcard.com</a>&mdash;the Illinois Interactive Report Card web site and much of the data that fueled it went away.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="A scatter plot George Clowes once made with the former IIRC site that shows the relationship between the percentage of low-income students in a school and test scores. (Courtesy George Clowes) " and="" between="" class="image-original_image" clowes="" courtesy="" former="" george="" iirc="" in="" low-income="" made="" of="" once="" percentage="" relationship="" scatter="" school="" scores.="" shows="" site="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/scatterplot.JPG" students="" style="width: 612px; height: 438px;" test="" that="" the="" title="A " with="" /></div><p>&ldquo;I just came to grips with it Friday of last week,&rdquo; says Rodney Estvan, an advocate for students with disabilities with the organization Access Living. &ldquo;I spent about four hours trying to search through it. I kept thinking that I wasn&rsquo;t seeing a link for greater detail. So I kept looking for pulldowns that were not there.&rdquo;</p><p>Estvan says the new site is easy to navigate, but he says he used the old interactive site to help parents.</p><p>&ldquo;I would get questions from parents like, &lsquo;Is this a good school or a bad school for kids with disabilities?&rsquo; So I could do a comparison. That is not easily available now.&nbsp; Nor is any of the grade level data. So for example, you can&rsquo;t see the progression of achievement by grade level and look at where things may be stalling in your school.&rdquo;</p><p>Parents can no longer easily visualize achievement gaps between different racial or income groups at their kids&rsquo; schools, nor can they see 10 years of demographic trends like they could before. Also gone are &ldquo;scatter plots&rdquo; that allowed users to compare relationships between factors like district spending and test scores.</p><p>Chicago mom Jeanne Marie Olson, who works with data and co-founded the <a href="http://cpsapples2apples.wordpress.com/page/2/" target="_blank">Apples2Apples</a> school data project, says the public is losing context. She said the new site is &ldquo;oversimplified to the point where I as a parent am not finding it as useful as the previous iteration.&rdquo;</p><p>The interactive web site was <a href="http://www.niu.edu/rdi/contacts/hsmith.shtml" target="_blank">born at Northern Illinois University in 2001</a>, and existed on floppy disks before that. Since 2003, NIU has had a contract with the state to update the data every year and maintain the web site, which gets about 30,000 hits per month, according to staff at the university.</p><p>Beginning around midnight on October 31, the day the state released 2013 school data, visitors to the Illinois Interactive Report Card web site were redirected to the state&rsquo;s new report card site&mdash;which shows just two years of test scores rather than the 10-year trends shown on the interactive site. A number of fields on the new report card site are blank. For instance, users who click on one new measure, the number of middle school students passing Algebra I, get a &ldquo;<a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com/State.aspx?source=Trends&amp;source2=MiddleSchoolStudentsPassingAlgebraI&amp;Stateid=IL" target="_blank">Coming in 2014</a>&rdquo; screen.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s like the web site had a prefrontal lobotomy,&rdquo; says Clowes. &ldquo;What a huge loss of an invaluable data analysis tool. Now the IIRC just functions as a robot data presentation tool.&rdquo;</p><p>The state and proponents of the new report card say it was never the intent to take any data or analytical capabilities away. Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus says producing the new report card was a major effort&mdash;one mandated by law&mdash;that required collecting and posting new measures of school progress, including survey data about schools and things like course offerings.</p><p>Fergus says after spending time, energy and money on the new site, the state wanted parents to use it. That&rsquo;s why the old interactive site was taken down.</p><p>But Fergus acknowledged the state has heard grumbling.</p><p>&ldquo;In the last week or so we&rsquo;ve heard from school staff that said they wanted access to that material, so we&rsquo;re going to get it back on the site within the week,&rdquo; Fergus said Thursday.</p><p>Fergus said the state has received &ldquo;overwhelmingly positive comments&rdquo; from people about the new report card, which also includes a two-page &ldquo;at a glance&rdquo; summary of a school&rsquo;s performance and environment that can be printed out. &ldquo;It is just a matter of due diligence and prioritizing the data we want up there. There&rsquo;s a lot of new great data on this new report card site. Sure, there&rsquo;s a couple minor glitches, but we are definitely on the road to a much more understandable report card that everyone can use&mdash;and really the end result will be how people use this data to improve their local schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Staff at Northern Illinois University confirm there is significantly less data available on the new web site. They say the intent was to add data and capabilities going forward.</p><p>But meanwhile, Fergus says the state will revive the Illinois Interactive Report Card next week&mdash;which will now be called &ldquo;Classic&rdquo; Illinois Interactive Report Card. The state will add a link to it from the new report card site. Fergus says there will be no extra cost to run the two sites.</p><p>For some, there&rsquo;s a bigger philosophical question at play here, about whether the state is trying to guide the public to a particular conclusion about its schools.&nbsp; One parent complained on Twitter that the new site doesn&rsquo;t give what used to be basic information about a high school&#39;s performance: average ACT scores. (If you&rsquo;re wondering why not, it&rsquo;s because <a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com/State.aspx?source=Trends&amp;source2=ReadyforCollegeCourseWork&amp;Stateid=IL" target="_blank">the state wants you to think differently about ACT scores these days</a>. The new site only reports how many kids at each school earned a score of 21 or better on the exam.)</p><p>The state says it still publishes average ACT scores on a <a href="http://webprod.isbe.net/ereportcard/publicsite/getsearchcriteria.aspx" target="_blank">separate site</a>.</p><p>Robin Steans, executive director of Advance Illinois and one of the biggest proponents of a new report card, says she always understood the report card would be adding information, not replacing data. She says the state&rsquo;s goal in presenting school data should be to strike a balance.</p><p>&ldquo;You certainly want the ability to navigate, use and compare information based on your own interests and research objectives,&rdquo; says Steans. &ldquo;I think there is also value in presenting information that is more likely to be immediately meaningful to people who don&rsquo;t have a lot of experience interacting with what can be very overwhelming and very confusing and very arcane information.&rdquo;</p><p>The paper version of school report cards had grown in some cases to more than 20 pages of mostly test score data.</p><p>Chicago parent Marc Sims says he will welcome the return of the &ldquo;classic&rdquo; interactive report card site next week, which he&rsquo;d become accustomed to using. Sims still lives in the South Side home where he grew up and tries to follow the progress of his neighborhood grammar school. He says if the data is laid out in an understandable way, there&rsquo;s no reason parents can&rsquo;t look at lots of it. &ldquo;I want to know how the school is doing this year&mdash;compared to last year, compared to five years, compared to 10 years ago. If you&rsquo;ve got 30 years, go right ahead! Give me 30 years of graphs if you can lay it out nicely to see how the school has done.&rdquo;</p></p> Sat, 09 Nov 2013 09:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-illinois-school-report-cards-mean-less-data-109118 Arts school to take over one of Chicago's 43 closed school buildings http://www.wbez.org/news/arts-school-take-over-one-chicagos-43-closed-school-buildings-109075 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lafayette.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">It looks like the city may have found a use for the first of Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/once-school-108496">43 shuttered school buildings</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Lafayette Elementary in Humboldt Park was shuttered in June. Now word is out that the <a href="http://www.chiarts.org/">Chicago High School for the Arts</a> is moving in.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re very enthusiastic about the neighborhood, which is sort of an arts neighborhood,&rdquo; said Jim Mabie, ChiArts&rsquo; founding chairman. &nbsp;&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve very enthusiastic about the facility. And we&rsquo;re looking forward to having our own building for the first time, which will house all 600 kids.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Billed as the city&rsquo;s &ldquo;Fame&rdquo; school, ChiArts has been without a permanent home since it opened five years ago. The city&rsquo;s first public arts high school, it offers three hours of intensive arts training a day on top of a five hours of academics.</p><p dir="ltr">ChiArts is one of very few schools Chicago has opened in the last decade that has managed to attract students from all over the city&mdash;it boasts students from every ward&mdash;and from all income and racial backgrounds.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/april_2012/mayor_emanuel_cpsannouncechicagohighschoolfortheartstorelocatein.html">The mayor announced </a>last year that ChiArts would take over part of &nbsp;Malcolm X College, which is getting a new facility. The city said then that the current Malcolm X building would be transformed into &ldquo;an eclectic, multi-purpose arts center.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Mabie says costs there were prohibitive. &ldquo;The Lafayette facility is a very good fit for us and economically will require less renovation dollars than Malcolm X would have required,&rdquo; he says. Moving to Lafayette is better financially for the school district, which has to pick up renovation costs, says Mabie, who is also a board chairman emeritus of Chicago Public Media.</p><p dir="ltr">The move to Lafayette could be controversial &nbsp;because Chicago Public Schools had promised no charter schools would take over closed buildings. ChiArts is a contract school&mdash;which is only slightly different than a charter. ChiArts admits students based on auditions, rather than by lottery. It is still privately run and publicly funded.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll wouldn&rsquo;t confirm that ChiArts is moving into the Lafayette building. &ldquo;There have been nine potential locations under consideration and Lafayette is one of them,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;All remains in the planning stage.&rdquo;</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> Mon, 04 Nov 2013 17:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/arts-school-take-over-one-chicagos-43-closed-school-buildings-109075