March 20, 2013
Dear Parents, Friends, and Colleagues,
As Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools, providing every child in every neighborhood in our District with a high-quality education is my top priority. That is why I am committed to make a series of new investments and supports for all children who will attend welcoming schools next fall as a result of our work to consolidate underutilized, half-empty schools.
For too long, children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under resourced schools. By consolidating these schools we can focus on transitioning every child into a better performing school close to their home. All welcoming schools will receive a combination of academic and capital supports based on their unique needs. In addition, each welcoming school will have the things that parents, teachers and CPS agree students need, including:
- A library in every school
- Air conditioning in every classroom;
- New discretionary funding as part of the “Welcoming School Support Fund” that principals can use to invest in programs to meet the unique needs of their students;
- Dramatic computer and science technology upgrades; and counseling and social work support
To support students both inside and outside the classroom, a “Welcoming School Support Fund” will be created for welcoming school principals to use for academic, student engagement, and social and emotional supports such as: tutoring, mentoring, or staff training on how to help students with coping skills and managing stress.
All welcoming schools will also receive capital investments to ensure that all students can attend schools with enhanced learning environments such as: lunchrooms and food services that accommodate the new welcoming school student body; new and upgraded technology supports, such as expanded Internet bandwidth; security and safety supports, such as alarms and entry screening equipment; improved ADA accessibility; air-conditioning; and upgraded interiors in schools with the greatest need, such as floors, ceilings, masonry, and fresh paint.
And special supports will be available for students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and Students in Temporary Living Situations. We are committed to not only providing these children with continued supports they receive now by trained staff and through any necessary equipment at their new welcoming school. These children will be further supported by student-specific profile information and one-on-one consultations with sending and welcoming school officials to identify and address their unique needs before the start of the school year.
As you know, our District faces a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year. Redirecting resources from underutilized and under-resourced schools is absolutely critical to freeing up the funds needed to invest in welcoming schools so that students can flourish with the support of a dedicated community, principals and teachers.
Like school systems in New York and Philadelphia, where enrollment has dropped, Chicago must make tough choices. Consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our city’s students get the resources they need to learn and succeed.
I thank you for your continued cooperation and patience as we work together to provide all CPS students with the high-quality education they deserve. And I am confident that our work to invest in new and improved schools will represent a new day for our children and, most importantly, a better chance for our students to succeed and thrive. Click here for a video message.
CEO, Chicago Public Schools