Seventh-year principal Avery Szjen caused an uproar at a recent meeting of the of Bellow High School LSC when he expressed his strong support for Renaissance 2010 -- a controversial initiative that has reduced the number of schools with autonomous LSCs across the city. Earlier this week, parent advocates announced a lawsuit to protest school closings and prevent further erosion of local control.
"I mean, if people can't get their act together, support their principal, and turn things around," said Szjen (pronounced "chin"). "Then maybe it's not such a bad idea for a new school not to have, you know, a real LSC."
In making these remarks, Szjen (pictured), 35, did not seem aware that Bellow, a struggling school in Bucktown, may soon be closed and revamped under the Renaissance 2010 plan. This would include a new staff, new leadership -- and no independent LSC.
Test scores have remained flat, enrollment is dwindling, and the school is located on a parcel of real estate long coveted by developers for a new hotel. In addition, a check of personnel records showed that the Bellow administrator is in the third year of his contract -- not the second, as he had thought.
"I guess that wasn't the most diplomatic thing to say given the timing and everything," said Szjen when he was reached at his home this weekend. "Bellow is a great school that should stay open. I hope my LSC won't hold it against me. "
UPDATE: This is a joke story, in the spirit of fake news and headlines in The Onion, The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report. Funny? That's your call. But not a hoax or a mistake. There is no Saul Bellow high school (though there should be), or Principal Szjen (though there may be others like him).
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