FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, May 15, 2017
For more information contact:
CPS Office of Communications
CHICAGO - In a letter today to members of the Ogden and Jenner elementary schools communities, Chicago Public Schools leadership announced the district’s intent to recommend that the Chicago Board of Education move toward a merger between the school communities to expand academic opportunities for all children and create a more diverse student body.
“The vibrant and growing communities that these schools serve approached CPS with a unique proposal to combine their efforts, not just to better use their existing space but also to integrate their student bodies,” CEO Forrest Claypool said. “We are looking forward to taking the next step toward making this merger happen, and will provide the community with a draft transition plan this fall.”
The district’s recommendation is the culmination of a nearly 2-year process that began with a community push toward consolidation. Beginning in February, CPS staff hosted three public meetings to listen to input from the broader community on this possible merger at each one of the three campuses that would impacted. The district will continue to get community input so that it can finalize all components of a merger plan recommendation.
“Our mission is to provide all children from all backgrounds the best possible education, and I believe that integrating these school communities will strengthen their future and our city’s future,” CEdO Jackson said. “Giving all our students access to critical programs like International Baccalaureate will expose them to even more academic rigor, and I know all our students can rise to the challenge.”
In today’s letter, CPS leadership told community members to expect several steps in finalizing all the components of a merger plan in the coming months, including drafting a transition plan that CPS staff will present to members of their community for their feedback, as well as receiving continued input about the merger itself.
“The insight, ideas and questions that you brought forward at these meetings have been thought-provoking and productive as we evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of a merger,” wrote CEO Claypool and CEdO Jackson. “We continue to hear voices of the community that support this merger to strengthen and integrate both school communities, and we continue to hear from voices who oppose the merger because of the complex logistical questions it creates and concern that the merger makes it more challenging to focus on academics.”
Among the key questions for the transition plan, CPS would address academic programming, managing the three-building footprint, school climate and culture, and staffing levels. CPS anticipates sharing the draft transition plan this fall.
Among the outstanding questions the district will work with the community to answer:
- What curriculum will be used at the merged school for core subjects such as math, reading, science, social studies and other subjects?
- How will grade levels be divided among the merged school’s various campuses?
- What programs from each school will remain, be eliminated or be expanded?
- What professional development will be needed to prepare staff, including certification in teaching International Baccalaureate programs, and how will staff transition?
- How will the school sustainably manage three buildings spread over more than four miles in the city?
CPS publishes annual recommendations for “school actions” no later than Dec. 1 of each year. At the earliest, the Board would vote on the final merger plan at its February 2018 meeting. If approved by the Board, the merger plan would be implemented in the 2018-19 school year.
In its latest school action guidelines, CPS made community support one of the possible elements of taking action.
A copy of the letter to the Ogden-Jenner community is available here
Chicago Public Schools serves 381,000 students in 652 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.