Aug 24 CPS Board of Ed Meeting from CNC
Written by: Crystal Yednak
NPN has partnered with the Chicago News Cooperative to help parents get answers to questions they have about Chicago schools. If you have a question you'd like to see addressed, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. CNC is our eyes and ears at the CPS Board of Education Meetings.
The property tax hike and the continued back-and-forth with the union over a longer day have dominated CPS news as of late, but here are a few other tidbits from this week’s Chicago Board of Education:
Cabinet level officials appointed
Last month, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced a reorganization of central office that included two new cabinet-level positions—Chief Portfolio Officer and Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer. On Wednesday, district officials named Oliver Sicat as Chief Portfolio Officer and Jamiko Rose as Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer. Sicat served as principal of Noble Street Charter School–UIC College Prep since 2008 and was previously a math teacher in Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago. He holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. Rose is currently the executive director of the Organization of the North East.
Future budget concerns discussed
The outlook for the budget is not going to get any better any time soon, according to a district budget presentation made during the meeting. The FY 2012 budget made $107 million in cuts to the central administration staff and programs, cuts to after-school programs, while adding seats for full-day kindergarten, magnet and charter schools. It also requires an increase in property taxes across the city to the maximum level allowed by state law. But it could get worse. There are “scary numbers coming at us in the next few years,” Brizard told the board. Pension payments are expected to rise significantly in 2014.
Following in the Civic Federation’s footsteps, another group released its annual analysis of the budget Wednesday. Access Living, an education-policy group focused on special education, also supported the district’s decision to raise property taxes, but warned of future financial problems. Rod Estvan, the group's education policy analyst, said the process for public participation needs to change and recommended CPS imitate how the Illinois State Board of Education asks for public comment before drawing up its budget.
Magnet and selective enrollment policy unchanged
For the first time in three years, the procedure for enrolling in a magnet or selective enrollment school will not change. The policy takes into consideration the recommendations of a blue ribbon commission that analyzed the process over the past year.
Students will continue to be divided into four socioeconomic tiers based on six criteria related to the census tract they live in –- median income, level of education attained by adults, percentage of single-parent households, percentage of home ownership, percentage of non-English speakers and the performance of schools within the census tract. At selective enrollment schools, 30 percent of seats will go to students with the top test scores citywide, while the rest will be divided according to the district’s four socioeconomic tiers. Magnet schools will continue to use lotteries for admission and to allow siblings automatic admission.
Board members Henry Bienen and Penny Pritzker questioned CPS officials about the diversity of selective enrollment schools. Bienen asked why there were large fluctuations in numbers for various minority groups despite the policy’s mathematical nature. Pritzker wanted to know how the district tracks such fluctuations to guarantee the numbers aren’t out of balance.
Advocacy groups push for less harsh punishments
Members of the High HOPES coalition, a group of community organizations advocating for fewer suspensions and expulsions, spoke at Wednesday’s meeting about the district’s funding priorities.
Brittany Cannon, a member of the coalition, and student leaders at the Humboldt Park organization Blocks Together, said that although the district approved a new student code of conduct last month, the budget does not address a lack of funding for alternative discipline programs such as peace circles and peer juries.
“I think CPS needs to put their money where their mouth is,” Cannon said, citing a $7 million allocation for high-definition security cameras. That money, she said could fund alternative discipline at more than 100 schools.
Last month, students with the group Voices of Youth in Chicago Education released a report critical of the district’s discipline policies and used last year’s budget to illustrate what it called misplaced funding priorities. The report said CPS spends 14 times more on school security than it does on student counselors.
For more education news, please go to www.chicagonewscoop.org/metro/education/.
The Chicago Board of Education is expected to take final action on the district’s proposed $5.9 billion budget Wednesday and vote on an admissions policy for magnet and selective enrollment schools that keeps the process consistent with last year's. In other board news, CPS announced plans Tuesday to add 90 minutes to the school day, plus two extra weeks to the year, for the 2012-13 school year. An advisory board to help the district with the planning this year. Check www.chicagonewscoop.org Wednesday for a full story on the plans for a longer school day.
The Meeting Agenda:
--Budget. Earlier this month, Chicago Public Schools released its proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget and days later, hosted a series of hearings for public input. The budget proposes a property tax hike, a reorganization of CPS management, programmatic cuts, denial of teachers 4 percent raises, and use of the district’s reserve fund.
--Magnet/Selective Enrollment Admissions. The application and admissions process for magnet and selective enrollment schools will remain the same as last year. The district will continue to evaluate students based on six criteria related to the census tract they live in. (Median income, level of education attained by adults, the percentage of single-parent households, percentage of homeownership, percentage of non-English speakers and the performance of schools within the census tract.) At selective enrollment schools, 30 percent of the seats will go to students with the top test scores citywide, while the rest will be divided according to the district's four socioeconomic tiers. Magnet schools will continue to use lotteries for admission and will also continue to allow siblings automatic admission.
--Athletics. The board is scheduled to vote on a $7.4 million project to construct new athletic fields at South Shore High School, as well as several amendments to the Chicago Public High Schools Athletic Association Bylaws. Those amendments include:
- Students serving a suspension under the new code of conduct are ineligible to participate in practices or games.
- All full- and part-time coaches must complete pre-hire and post-hire background checks. Any school found to be in violation will be fined $250 for each violation.
- Coaches must comply with the district’s new concussion policies.
- The district will add bass fishing and lacrosse to the list of approved sports.
- In order to participate in freshman sports, a student cannot be 16 or older and shall be in the first year of attendance at the school.
--Charter Contracts. Contracts for some campuses of Chicago International Charter School and Urban Prep Academies will also come before the board for renewal.
--New College/Career Academies. CPS will add 11 more college and career academies at five different high schools for the 2012-2013 school year. The schools and corresponding academies are:
- Schurz will establish digital media and pre-engineering academies in addition to the existing automotive technology and business programs.
- Sullivan will establish a business academy in addition to the existing allied health and medical & health careers academies.
- Harlan will add a business academy in addition to the existing information technology and Cisco networking IT academies.
- Richards will establish law & public safety, culinary & hospitality, and business academies.
- Roosevelt will establish culinary & hospitality, teaching & early childhood education, information technology and Cisco networking IT academies.