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A little sunshine at CPS

UPDATED – With the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force set to meet in Chicago Monday, PURE reviews the minutes of its first meeting, held in Springfield last month, and notes that Rep. Cynthia Soto, Clarice Berry of the Chicago Principals Association, and a teachers union representative all remarked on the connection between repairs to neighborhood school buildings and their subsequent closing for use by charter or other Renaissance 2010 schools.

That’s the issue long raised by advocates for neighborhood schools (see February 2009 Newstip) and one reason Soto introduced legislation creating the task force – enacted last year by unanimous votes in the House and Senate over Governor Quinn’s veto.

A CPS official admitted they “can’t provide” information on facility investments vis-a-vis Renaissance 2010.

The task force requested a comprehensive list of facility investments over the past five years, and CPS promised to provide details on “which schools receiving facility investments were closed, consolidated, or turned over to charters or contract schools, including the sources of funding for renovations, new construction, and capital repairs.”

That would be an unprecedented (if preliminary) step toward transparency for a decision-making process that has been widely viewed as arbitrary, opaque, unaccountable, and politically-motivated.

UPDATE: On April 26, State Senator William Delgado issued the following release regarding the task force:

“Task Force launches transparency initiative and public input process on Chicago Public School construction”

Chicago, Illinois – Responding to widespread public concern about the
Chicago Public Schools’ school construction spending priorities and
educational programming changes, the Illinois General Assembly’s
“Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force” is launching a major
initiative to shed light on CPS’ decision making and get the public’s
input.  Details of the initiative will be presented at a Task Force
Press Conference to be held on Monday.

Co-Chairs of the Task Force Senator William Delgado and Representative
Cynthia Soto will lead an unprecedented effort to get input from the
public, educators, parents, and communities impacted by CPS school
closings, consolidations, new school creation, and the school
construction spending priorities accompanying these decisions.

“Especially in these tough economic times educational opportunities are
more important than ever.  The way CPS spends scarce dollars on
facilities while it closes some schools and makes huge educational
changes at others, deserves a thorough review,” stated Senator Delgado.
“The General Assembly’s goal in creating this Task Force is to ensure
fairness in decision making that gives all our children equal access to
the best possible education.”

Representative Soto emphasized that, “This task force is unusual —
partly because both Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate
are working together — but also because its very purpose is to create
transparency and openness in CPS’ decisions.  We need to hear from all
stakeholders so we can come up with meaningful legislation and policy
reform ideas to make all of our schools better.”

The CEFTF will create transparency by posting all notices of and results
of its meetings, events, deliberations, and ultimately its
recommendations for improving educational and facility master planning
in Chicago, to the worldwide web and through a pro-active media outreach
effort.  In addition to public hearings to be held in Chicago over the
Summer, the Task Force also urges the public to contact the Task Force
through email.  As of May 1st, the public will be able submit questions,
comments, suggestions, and testimonies to the Task Force by emailing
CEFTF Co-Chairs Representative Soto at: and Senator
Delgado at:

“Everyone will know what we are doing, and what we learn about how CPS
is changing our neighborhood schools and spending precious school
construction and repair dollars,” added State Rep. Esther Golar, a CEFTF
Member.  “This task force can help Chicago’s public schools and school
districts around the entire state, to benefit from better educational
and facility planning.  We don’t have dollars to waste, and we can’t
lose any more time in improving educational opportunities for today’s
public school students.  The stakes are high,” Golar stated.

State Rep. Jerry Mitchell, Ex Officio Advisor to the Task Force, is a
former school district administrator.  He remarked, “At the Task Force’s
first meeting March 18 in Springfield, we heard testimony from a CPS
school that has been trying for a decade to get a new building to
relieve overcrowding.  Something isn’t working in the status quo
approach.  As Minority Spokesperson for Education in the State House, I
support the Task Force’s efforts to learn more from the public, CPS and
other experts.  I will try to help my colleagues from both sides of the
aisle come up with proposed solutions so that Illinois’ public school
students and teachers won’t have to live with unfortunate conditions
like those at Chicago’s Gallistel School.”

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Category: CPS, school closings, school facilities


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