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Parents want input on school board opening

With billionaire hotel heiress Penny Pritzker stepping down from the school board, Chicago parents are calling for an open process for selecting her successor.

Raise Your Hand is calling on Mayor Emanuel to replicate the process he established to choose a new 7th Ward alderman, allowing eligible individuals to apply, and creating an advisory commission with community representatives to recommend finalists.

RYH notes that Emanuel said he would use that selection process as a template for future appointments.

“If this process was good for the residents of the 7th Ward, it should be even better for all Chicago residents who are served by CPS,” according to an RYH statement.  “The new board member is being chosen at a critical time….

“In the wake of thousands of people attending school closure hearings, the next appointment must be made in an open and transparent fashion that allows the community a voice in the process.”

The group is one of many that supports an elected school board for Chicago.

Pritzker, an “heiress who hates being called an heiress” whose family controls the Hyatt Corporation, is under consideration for Secretary of Commerce.

In the 1990s she chaired the board of Superior Bank, which pioneered the subprime mortgage market, and later collapsed.  More recently she’s launched a private equity firm investing in distressed properties.

She came under fire here after a hotel development in Hyde Park featuring a Hyatt franchise was awarded a $5 million TIF subsidy.  TIF districts cost CPS about $250 million a year.

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