Under-Utilized Schools, 36 Minute Extension

Catching up on recent education news?  Me, too.  Some of the bigger stories include the Board's release of its plans for extended high school schedules and a new utilization measure that finds Chicago schools underutilized:

CPS students lose homeroom, gain 36 more minutes of class time Sun Times: Chicago Public Schools students would attend high school an extra 36 minutes a day and homeroom would be a thing of the past under district guidelines issued Thursday for moving those schools to a longer school day next year.

Chicago Public Schools want longer high school day WBEZ: On Thursday CPS released new guidelines for lengthening high school days ahead of the 2012-2013 academic year. They're calling for high schoolers and teachers to be in school for close to 40 more minutes a day.

New look at Chicago school buildings finds half underused Sun Times:  Four times more schools are underused than overcrowded under the formula, which includes charter schools. The breakdown: 336 schools underused, including 68 high schools; 77 schools overcrowded, including eight high schools; and 249 schools used “efficiently,” including 59 high schools.

Schools not using space, study finds Tribune:  Half of Chicago Public Schools' buildings enroll fewer students than their classroom space allows, according to new district standards released Wednesday. Under the new formula, 268 of the district's 527 elementary schools are underutilized, as are 68...

Officials consider charter school on Ill. navy base WBEZ: The Illinois State Board of Education and a school district in North Chicago say they've gotten three applications to run a charter school on the base.

Race to the Top Results ‘Baffling’ CNC:  The money awarded last week will go to individual districts willing to implement reforms more quickly than required by state law and will help establish a public-private initiative aimed at advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula across the state.

State lax in going after educators for alleged cheating, testing violations Tribune:  In Chicago Public Schools, teacher Tomorrah Howard resigned before a dismissal hearing as the district investigated cheating allegations on state exams at Daley Elementary Academy in March 2010.



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  • Re: Space utilization

    I suppose one can always argue over formulae, but the conclusion seems to be valid for Taft HS: We are overcrowded by about 37%.

    We certainly don't want to lose positions, but our enrollment (2992) is 371 students over the high point in our "enrollment efficiency range" (2621).

    Can we fit all those students into the building? Sure, we do. But we have no flexibility in programming. The Academic Center homerooms all meet in the cafeteria and a number of homerooms meet in the gyms. Granted, the Board wants to eliminate homeroom next year, but they've also asked us to be creative and innovative in coming up with ways to fill the extended day next year.

    Further, because our cafeteria was not designed to hold so many students, we schedule lunch from 3rd period (starts at 9:30) through 8th period (starts at 1:40). Generally, seniors are programmed for the 8th period lunch--with the expectation many of them will go on home--but they become hungry far earlier in the day. Many of them snack through classes.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    My school is 55% overcrowded. Has been for almost two decades. But CPS thinks we have 7 or 8 more classrooms than we actually do. Our efficiency range should be lower by about 240 students.

    We face challenges similar to Taft. First lunch is at 9:40 a.m. Last lunch begins at 2:09 p.m. Overfilled lunchroom for homeroom and lunch periods. Auditorium full for homeroom. Classes taught on our (crappy) auditorium stage, in hallways, etc.

    No flexibility in scheduling. Extremely limited electives plus 4 years of mandatory PE due to space restrictions. Staggered schedules for students and teachers alike resulting in 4 different start times and end times wreak havoc on extracurriculars of all kinds and student job prospects.

    Several years ago we offered an ideal solution to CPS. Keep in tact and relocate a nearby magnet school where most students in attendance come from outside the neighborhood and create a freshmen campus for our successful neighborhood high school. CPS rejected the proposal.

    CPS is now opening UNO charters in our neighborhood which lowers our enrollment slightly but also pulls our most motivated kids and parents and families. Then the "rejects" are sent back to us in January.

    We now realize that the key to future success at our school has nothing to do with curriculum and teaching. It has to do with whether or not we can market ourselves as well as UNO to attract the best kids not admitted to magnet schools.

    At this point, we'd just like to be completely anonymous to CPS. The more they get involved the more our school is messed up.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Our competition has been private schools, Lane Tech, and--since its opening a decade ago--Northside College Prep. While Taft's Academic Center is one of the top schools in the state, less than half of those students choose to continue to our high school. Instead, they choose the selective enrollment or private schools.

    We've been fortunate not to have any charter schools open on this side of town.

    Taft is a neighborhood school. We don't want to be a selective enrollment school, but we would like our share of top students.

  • Let me guess - UNO sends the tough kids back in January - but UNO keeps the per-pupil money…sounds like UNO has a pretty good scam

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Let's be honest - neighborhood schools also send kids packing and keep the per-pupil money. Still, there are major differences:

    Neighborhood schools are subject to state laws and guidelines governing removal of a student. Charters are not. Traditional schools often are stuck with criminals, violent offenders, serious gang bangers, and other troubled youth. Charters are often stuck with kids who wear the wrong belt to school and can't afford the monetary fines for such misconduct.

    Neighborhood schools take everyone who walks in the door. Charter schools only take selected students.

    Neighborhood schools cannot typically cap enrollment to avoid overcrowding. Charters can and do cap enrollment to avoid overcrowding.

    The list goes on and on, of course...

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    In my 22 years at a neighborhood school we have expelled only two students, one for bringing a gun to school and another for repeated discipline code violations including threatening a teacher-he was on an ankle monitor in Indiana-he damaged several teachers' cars in the school parking lot....a gang mother who moved him back into Illinois because the police were too hard on her baby...no one notified us regarding his past criminal history in Indiana...thank God for CPD....CPS is useless when it comes to student/staff safety

  • Rahm, will you reverse this charter corporate scam of keeping money for students "counseled" out of their school? Rahm?

  • Chicago Taxpayers to Emanuel: “The Honeymoon is Over…”
    Parents, teachers, community leaders plan sit-in until mayor heeds their concerns about the quality of their neighborhood schools

    WHO: Parent and community leaders from North Kenwood, Oakland, and the Greater Bronzeville community & the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO); and allied parents, teachers, clergy, and neighborhood activists from across the Chicago

    WHAT: Will conduct a non-violent demonstration in front of the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Protestors will flood the 5th floor of City Hall and will evoke the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and will demand to meet with the mayor and ask him to halt planned devastating actions against their schools. The Board has targeted 18 under-resourced schools for “school actions,” nearly all of them in the Black and Latino community.

    WHEN: 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    WHERE: City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, 5th Floor

    WHY: Buoyed by the votes of the Black community, Mayor Emanuel was elected to office in 2011 following a promise of change, accountability and transparency. Yet, when it comes to his plans for the city’s public schools, the Emanuel administration has only offered more of the same—arbitrary school actions that target predominately African American and Latino schools for closure, turnaround, campus consolidation or charter expansion.

    Some of the demonstrators traveled to successful school districts around the country over a two-year period and met with education leaders to develop the Bronzeville Global Achievers Village School Improvement Plan. “The Board of Education and Mayor Emanuel have yet to respond to parents’ efforts to garner support and implement their plan and save their schools,” said Jitu Brown, education organizer for KOCO. “Instead of respecting the very community that helped put him in office, he has gone deaf and unyielding in his mission to turn our schools over to politically connected school operators without a proven record of school success. We want to tell the mayor that the honeymoon is over. Our community will not just sit back and take it. We are not his subjects to be done with as he wishes. Our children deserve equal access to high quality schools now.”

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