WBEZ | school districts http://www.wbez.org/tags/school-districts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois school districts can compete for federal money http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-school-districts-can-compete-federal-money-99446 <p><p>School districts all around the state can apply for&nbsp;up to $25 million from the federal government under the latest Race to the Top competition.</p><p>But first they have to agree to big changes&mdash;like personalized instruction for individual students and performance evaluations for everyone, including the superintendent and the school board.</p><p>Only about 75 of the state&rsquo;s more than 800 districts are eligible to compete for a portion of the $400 million&mdash;roughly 30 districts are in the Chicagoland area.</p><p>That&rsquo;s because, to apply, districts have to have a minimum of 2,500 students, 40 percent of whom must qualify for free and reduced lunch.</p><p>Eligible districts include those in Elgin, Evanston, Joliet, Aurora and Waukegan.</p><p>The superintendents of Evanston District 65 and DuPage District 88 said they&rsquo;re interested in applying, but don&rsquo;t know yet if they will. Districts can link up and apply as a group, as long as they still collectively meet the 40 percent low-income threshold.&nbsp;</p><p>Previous rounds of Race to the Top awarded grants to states, rather than districts.&nbsp;Illinois tried three times and came up empty, but then was awarded $42 million last December.</p><p>U.S. Education secretary and former Chicago Public Schools chief Arne Duncan said the local union president, superintendent and school board president all will have to sign off on a district&rsquo;s application.</p><p>&ldquo;Where folks are at each other&rsquo;s throats, that&rsquo;s probably not where we want to invest,&rdquo; Duncan said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon.</p><p>CPS is eligible for the competition, and district leaders have said they would apply to a district-focused Race to the Top.</p><p>CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union are currently at loggerheads over a new contract and have exchanged heated rhetoric in the press lately.</p><p>The applications for the competition will likely be due in September or October, Duncan said.</p></p> Tue, 22 May 2012 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-school-districts-can-compete-federal-money-99446 State to send financial oversight panel, consultants to North Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/state-send-financial-oversight-panel-consultants-north-chicago-99267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_1305.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>More state control is coming to the troubled public schools in suburban North Chicago.</p><p>The Illinois Board of Education voted Thursday to put a five-member panel in charge of North Chicago school finances. &nbsp;</p><p>State schools Superintendent Chris Koch said the district is facing &ldquo;all sorts of potential train wrecks financially.&rdquo;</p><p>Earlier this week, WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/eight-forty-eight/2012-05-14/state-hand-getting-tighter-suburban-north-chicago-schools">reported </a>on state involvement in the struggling district and Koch&rsquo;s plans to remove the locally elected school board. A separate state-appointed board will take its place.&nbsp;</p><p>The financial oversight panel is similar to others in districts across the state. Currently, the Cairo, Proviso and Venice school districts have such panels. Last month, the board voted to appoint one in East St. Louis, where the local board also will be replaced.</p><p>No one has been appointed to the finance panel or the new board yet, but state law says the financial oversight group must include two people from the community.</p><p>Last year, North Chicago board members signed an agreement with the state to work together to improve its struggling public schools.</p><p>But in recent months that agreement has fallen apart.</p><p>Another state-appointed board is one of two new additions to the state&rsquo;s strategy in North Chicago.</p><p>Earlier this week, the state indicated plans to hire The Vallas Group, run by former Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas, to help improve low-performing districts, including North Chicago.</p><p>Vallas&#39; was one of five groups that responded to the request for proposals. The preliminary contract would pay the organization just under $1 million for three years.</p></p> Thu, 17 May 2012 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-send-financial-oversight-panel-consultants-north-chicago-99267 Suburban school district vows to defend expulsion http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/suburban-school-district-vows-defend-expulsion <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-04/ProvisoEast.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A suburban school district says it&rsquo;ll fight a lawsuit aimed at overturning the expulsion of a student. Proviso Township High Schools says kicking him out was necessary for the safety of other students. <br /><br />Proviso East High School in west suburban Maywood claims Coris Ashford, 17, took part in a hallway fight that injured a student last May. The district says it caught the fight on videotape. Officials expelled Ashford and two other students until next August.<br /><br />Ashford&rsquo;s mother, Erica Edmond, says the punishment is not justifiable. &ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t show me the videotape,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;They didn&rsquo;t show me any type of proof that my son did anything.&rdquo;<br /><br />In a statement Thursday afternoon, the district says it gave each student due process and will defend itself &ldquo;to the fullest extent.&rdquo;<br /><br />In July, a Cook County judge threw out a Proviso East expulsion that involved an unrelated incident last year.<br /><br />In September, WBEZ found that the school district has been suspending or expelling one in three of its students each year.</p></p> Thu, 04 Nov 2010 21:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/suburban-school-district-vows-defend-expulsion