AM News: Board Approves Charters, Boundaries

image from webmedia.newseum.orgThree charter schools get boundaries Catalyst: Despite some opposition at the Board of Education meeting today, a new Englewood Montessori school will open its doors next year, and three charter schools will be allowed to establish attendance boundaries for their students... Charter schools want more space Tribune:  Charter supporters say that of the 91 charter schools in CPS, at least 10 have building issues... Unfiltered WBEZ:  Community participation is here. Check back around noon for audio from Cheat Sheet...  New Jones College Prep applies for zoning Chicago Journal:  At the hearing, the project's representatives said they're still in discussions about what will happen to the old Jones building once the new school opens... Parent Upset That Graphic Slavery Film Was Shown To 4th-Grader CBS2:  It depicts, in chilling detail, the horrors endured by Africans captured and chained aboard a slave ship. The fact that the movie was shown to fourth-graders in Winnetka has some parents enraged...MORE BELOW

Controversial Slave Movie Shown to Kids:  More than 50 people packed the Winnetka School District 36 School Board meeting Tuesday night concerned about the disturbing content of a movie that was shown last week to fourth-graders in Greeley School... Prents say film about slavery shown to Winnetka fourth graders was too intense Tribune:  Patrick Livney is upset that an HBO film called "The Middle Passage" was shown to his 9-year-old daughter's fourth grade class at Greeley School in Winnetka. The film depicts a slave ship from Africa to the New World and the atrocities that take place on board...Fight leads to arrests at Austin H.S. campus building Tribune:  Chicago police arrested 12 students for fighting at the Austin High School campus building this morning, officials said.

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  • We should pause for a moment and consider the Tribune article by Noreen Ahmed-Ullah on the need for charter schools in CPS to have more space provided to them that Alexander has posted. Given the fact that next year there will be around 50,000 charter school students in the CPS this is really not a surprise. Mr. Broy, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools president is requesting that CPS provide more space to charter schools. Apparently unnamed "charter advocates" are telling the Chicago Tribune: "CPS owns more than 100 school buildings that are underused and house low-performing schools. New and expanding charter schools should have access to those sites."

    Here is my thinking on this issue. CPS should sell off school buildings to charter schools that are not being used at all. Charter schools can utilize the Illinois Facilities Fund and tax exempt bonds to purchase such unused buildings at market rates. If a school is failing and is closed it can legally be converted to a charter under existing rules. Shared buildings do not appear to work. It would be a good deal for CPS getting buildings off the books that require upkeep and rehab. Allowing charters to use CPS buildings and being charged just for utilities, maintenance and janitorial services is a bad deal for CPS.

    Charter supporters would argue I think oh no Rod, CPS would have to educate these children anyway, so it is cheaper for CPS to hand over a building to KIPP for example which is mentioned in the Tribune article. To this I would say we do not know how many children attending charter schools would have opted for private schools if this free option wasn't available to them. Clearly some would have opted out of CPS and others could not afford to. Some may even have left the city rather than attend their home school.

    But here is a problem Mr. Broy does not discuss, the credit worthiness of some charters is not sufficient to float bonds to outright buy CPS buildings even with the backing of the IFF. Really the only income charters have are tuition payments from CPS, federal dollars, donations, and state categorical money and all of these funds are subject to being reduced during the current fiscal downturn. KIPP for example has a Foundation can't it help? Tax records for that organization indicate its total net worth on June 30, 2009 was $19.6 million, that sounds like a lot of money, well not really.

    First money goes fast when your CEO gets paid $309,972 a year and other senior staff are making good money too (go to http://www.kipp.org/about-kipp/support-kipp and click on the IRS 990 form to see this information). Moreover, KIPP is operating around 99 schools, so if we divide the foundation's net worth into these schools we see that it comes to only $197,979 per school. But each KIPP school is a separate 501(c)3 entity so they are, let us say shaky investments.

    For all of Illinois Network of Charter Schools talk of independence, really charter schools are very, very dependent on CPS. As the charter sector of CPS get larger and larger the greater the fiscal problems this sector will present. Even if teachers at KIPP make less than the average CPS teacher under the CTU contract, and I don't know what their salary levels are so I am speculating here, the charter model does not appear generate enough money to be self sustaining over the long run. KIPP admits this in its fund raising efforts on its website.

    We will have 50,000 charter school students in Chicago next year, what happens when there are 100,000 charter school students, will donations be able to keep the model afloat?

    Rod Estvan

  • Ducks

    Personally I will no longer use the term charter school. From now on I will
    Call them Neo-Parochial schools. Finally the church got it

  • CPS is going to close 7 or 8 elementary schools by June 30, 2011 due to underutilization!

  • In reply to chijas:

    If the city's population has fallen by 200K then it makes sense that schools have to close. Somewhere, there's got to be less students than there used to be unless the census had some major under-counting (wouldn't be surprised) going on. Kansas City got itself into deep trouble by having a large population loss but not closing any schools during the thirty year period it was going on. Then suddenly they could no longer afford to keep all these half filled schools going and it was chaos!

  • Without knowing which schools are going to close, how can you assumed charters are to blame? There are only 50K charter students in CPS. That's just slightly over 10% and they have already closed schools over the time they've had charters, so it's hard to tell without more info. Plus not every charter school student would necessarily be attending CPS in the absence of the charter school.

  • If the charter school asked for test scores before accepting students and only accepted those with high scores, report the charter school. It's breaking the law and should be held to account.

    How many students did the charter school kick out? Did the school actually tell the student that they couldn't come back, or did they make requirements, like stay an extra hour a day to drill and the student chose not to continue with that school? The first practice is on shaky legal grounds, but the 2nd is legal as the student and his family always has the right to return to his neighborhood school.

    If you see something illegal, report it!

  • CPS is not listening to this committee!

  • CPS is not listening to this committee!

  • For show, so CPS can do what it wants to do!

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