CEO Byrd-Bennett announced the appointment of a nine-member Commission on School Utilization composed of stakeholders with different experience and expertise who will lead this community engagement process, gather information and provide a written report to guide CPS in making recommendations around school actions.
The Commission on School Utilization will be an independent body that will facilitate community conversations to study the district’s current state, engage community members and gather input on how to improve our schools, and make recommendations on how best to address the financial challenges facing CPS.
Members of the Commission on School Utilization include:
The Honorable Iris Y. Martinez was sworn into her first term in the Illinois State Senate on January 8, 2003 to represent the people of Illinois’ 20th Legislative District. Her election marked the first time a Hispanic woman had been elected to the State Senate in Illinois history. Senator Martinez has used her position as a State Senator to be an advocate for affordable housing and a strong voice for Illinois’ children. Senator Martinez has been a tireless promoter of programs to improve the quality of education for youth in Illinois, including the Grow Your Own Teachers Initiative, an effort to place 1,000 teachers in low-income, hard-to-staff Illinois public schools, and she has also worked to support the Golden Apple Scholar Program, which seeks to place highly qualified teachers in the State’s hard-to-staff schools. Martinez was born and raised in Chicago’s West Town community.
Frank M. Clark retired in 2012 as the chairman and chief executive officer of ComEd, where he started in 1966 in the mailroom. Today Clark serves as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust and on the boards of the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, Metropolitan Family Services, DePaul University, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, University of Chicago Medical Center, Big Shoulders Fund, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and Illinois Manufacturers Association. He is co-founder of the Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy and co-chair of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Board. Clark serves on the boards of Waste Management, Inc., Aetna Inc. and Harris Financial Corporation.
Pastor John Hannah was born and raised in Chicago and is the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church and radio host for Chicago’s # 1 rated Gospel radio program, “The John Hannah Morning Show.” Motivated to eliminate the walls of religion and denominationalism, Pastor Hannah founded New Life Covenant Church, which consists of individuals from different races, cultures and backgrounds. With many years of ministry experience, Pastor Hannah has become a renowned speaker, preacher, and teacher. He recently wrote his first book, What to Do While You're Waiting. Pastor Hannah holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Alabama State University.
Terry Hillard spent more than three decades protecting and serving the 2.8 million citizens of Chicago – including a distinguished tenure as Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), overseeing an annual budget totaling nearly $1 billion. Hillard earned the CPD’s highest rank and distinction the old-fashioned way: one step at a time – evolving first from a Patrol Officer to a Gang Crimes Specialist and member of the mayoral Executive Security Detail and later to Intelligence Division Sergeant, District Commander, Chief of Detectives, Coordinator of the Chicago Terrorist Task Force and Lieutenant in Gang Crimes and Narcotics Sections. Now as partner and co-founder of Hillard Heintze, Hillard taps this leadership experience to advise an exclusive roster of senior decision-makers responsible for the performance of some of the most important public and private organizations in the United States, South America and the Caribbean.
Shirley Calhoun, 63, has five children, 15 grandchildren, and one grandson – most of whom have attended John Fiske Elementary School. She has been a strong advocate for education in her family and she is highly involved in her community. She can be found at Fiske each day, where she serves as Assistant Parent Coordinator and works with the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community with the Apostolic Church. Shirley’s children all graduated with top honors and went on to attend prestigious high schools like Whitney Young and Lane Tech and continued to college – all of them now have professional careers. Outside of the school community, she serves as President of the Senior Club at Harris Park, where she orchestrates field trips and exercise classes for seniors. She is also a member of the Grove Park Plaza Tenants Organization.
Deberah Perkins is a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher who taught mathematics for 38 years. She taught high school math for 29 years at Paul Robeson High School and served as the mathematics department chairperson for 10 years. Previously, she served on Paul Robeson High School’s Local School Council. Prior to teaching at Paul Robeson High School, she taught high school mathematics and Advanced Placement Calculus for nine years at Von Steuben High School. She holds a Master of Arts from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science from Chicago State University.
Dr. Fausto E. López is a lifelong educator, principal, and administrator committed to service in support of educational and community organizations across Chicago. His tenure at Chicago Public Schools began as a teacher at John Le Moyne Elementary School in 1971. He served as a school psychologist and human resources coordinator before serving as principal at Jungman Elementary School and James Bowen High School. In recent years, he has taught at the North Park College of Education and served as a Leadership Coach at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Principals Training Program. He also provides support to CPS schools regarding management, administration, and school supervision.
Earnest Gates is one of the principal people responsible for the transformation of the newly named "West Haven" neighborhood. Through his leadership and negotiation, he has restored the hope of the neighborhood and worked relentlessly to transform it into a stable working-class community. Gates joined forces with the Interfaith Organizing Project, a coalition of churches, to prevent the developers from leveling the neighborhood and displacing the residents. Last year, he helped negotiate the plan to transform Crane High School into a health sciences school. As head of the nonprofit Near West Side Community Development Commission, Gates’ goal is to make the neighborhood a more appealing place to live and for businesses to thrive.
Alderman Howard B. Brookins is serving his third term in the 21st Ward. The Alderman has had a distinguished career in the public sector, serving as an Assistant Public Defender, Assistant State’s Attorney and Special Assistant Attorney General. He is currently a partner in the Brookins and Wilson Law Firm. Alderman Brookins is a graduate of Mendel Catholic High School, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and Northern Illinois University Law School. He participates in committees and organizations including Trinity United Church of Christ, Prince Hall Mason Eureka Lodge #64, Board of Directors of the Community Media Workshop, Board of Directors of the NIU Alumni Association, and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. Brookins is a long-time resident of the City of Chicago and is committed to improving the quality of life for the area he serves.