March 23, 2011
Improving educational options for students in under-enrolled schools, creating space for high performing schools to grow, updating deficit projections and laying essential groundwork for a high-reaching educational plan were among topics on the agenda for today’s meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Led by Interim CEO Terry Mazany, these actions demonstrate officials’ intent to continue to strengthen the system’s education agenda.
The broadest impact may come from the strategic guidance prepared by an External Advisory Board of leading education experts from throughout the city and around the country. This guidance focuses on best practices and elements consistently found to be part of high-performing schools.
"There are a number of steps that should be considered regardless of who is at the helm,” Mazany said.
Also today, Mazany presented to the Board an updated budget analysis showing the CPS estimated budget gap for 2012 is $720 million. A major contributor to this deficit is the loss of one-time revenues—such as Federal stimulus money—which funded elements of this year’s operating budget and will not be available for 2012.
“In addition, there are the very big questions about what decisions the state will make, both in terms of funding level and the current backlog of $236 million in state payments due CPS,” Mazany added. He noted that repayment of that money would cut the current deficit significantly.
Also during the board meeting, Mazany proposed a list of school consolidations for consideration.
“The proposed school actions would provide better and more complete educational environments for students whose schools are being consolidated into others,” said Mazany. “In every case, students would be offered the opportunity to attend a school that is as good as or is better performing than the school they currently attend.”
Public hearings will be scheduled for each proposed action, Mazany said. The Interim CEO will then present a final list of proposed school actions to the Chicago Board of Education for consideration at its April 27 meeting.
Mazany said CPS is pressing forward with proposed actions because decisions have to be made to accommodate students for the next school year. “These school actions should come as no surprise to anyone. They have been under consideration for some time and we need to move forward in order to give our students a better opportunity to succeed.”
Many of the schools on the list of proposed actions are already being phased out, with enrollments of 100 or fewer students. Under-enrolled schools do not provide students with the best educational opportunities. These schools assign split-grade classrooms and are limited in their after-school and in-school options. Other schools have been adding grade-levels and need more room to expand their quality programs.
Mazany said that to continue to operate these schools with so few students and delay these actions any further is to deny them better school options.
Because most of the schools on this preliminary list of actions are already being phased out, substantial outreach has already taken place within those communities, Mazany said. Additionally, CPS more recently has been in contact with local elected officials and is committed to providing access to new or expanded programming and supports to help students transition successfully.
Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 410,000 students in more than 670 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.
Proposed school consolidations and attendance area boundary changes:
- George Schneider, 2957 N. Hoyne Ave. into Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, 3149 N. Wolcott. Schneider is phasing out and has a projected fall 2011 enrollment of only 65 students in grades 2-8. Jahn has more than 400 students, is a magnet cluster school and features robust after-school programming. More than 80 percent of Jahn students meet or exceed state standards.
- Hans Christian Andersen, 1148 N. Honore St., into LaSalle II, 1148 N. Honore St. (the two schools already share one building). Andersen is phasing out and has a projected fall 2011 enrollment of only 61 students in grades 6-8. LaSalle II, which will have its first eighth grade class next year, is a magnet school focused on World Language, with more than 85 percent of students meeting or exceeding state standards.
- Philo Carpenter, 1250 W. Erie St., into Mancel Talcott, 1840 W. Ohio St. Carpenter is phasing out and has a projected fall 2011 enrollment of 108 students across six grade levels (3-8). Because of low enrollment, it has split-grade classrooms that do not provide an ideal learning environment for students. Talcott is the best performing school in the immediate community.
- Avondale, 2945 N Sawyer Ave., into Logandale, 3212 W. George St. Avondale is a feeder primary grade school for the current Logandale Middle School. Where Avondale has space limitations, Logandale is under-enrolled and has space available. Through consolidation, students of both schools can provide a better learning environment for with minimum disruption.
- Consolidate all small schools at Bowen Campus, 2710 E. 89th St., into New Millennium High School. Bowen was split into four small schools – New Millennium, BEST, Chicago Discovery and Global Visions – in 2002. Consolidating the Bowen Campus schools into New Millennium, the highest performing of the four small schools, is in response to a stated community desire and with the belief that the consolidated high school will provide better educational options to high school students in South Chicago.
- Jacob Beidler, 3151 W. Walnut St., into Willa Cather, 2908 W. Washington Blvd. Consolidation will improve outcomes for Beidler students by providing a high-quality learning environment and integrating new strategies into the school, such as the Strategic Learning Initiative. This also allows for the expansion of Urban Prep High School, East Garfield Park campus, at the Beidler building. The school is currently sharing space at Cather; however, the Beidler building is a larger building that will allow the school to reach full capacity.
- Reassign kindergarten boundary of George W. Tilton, 223 N. Keeler Ave., to Guglielmo Marconi, 230 N. Kolmar Ave., and Laura S Ward, 410 N. Monticello Ave. This boundary change would allow more students to attend underenrolled Marconi and allow for the expansion of Chicago Talent Development HS in the Tilton building.
Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.