Divided At Lincoln ES

Last week's blog post about the effort by the LSC at Lincoln Elementary to push for an annex expansion as part of the Children's Memorial Hospital redevelopment generated a lot of readers and comments -- about Lincoln Park, race, equity, and other core issues.  You can see it here.  Now, here's some more about the divisions among Lincoln Elementary School parents and the Lincoln Park community, via a reader email below. Basically, some of the parents want the expansion/annex, while others (a second group, seeking to block or change the response to overcrowding at Lincoln) work to find other responses). Take a look and tell us what you make of it, or if you're a parent or community member tell us what it's like.

LETTER [email dated 10/18]

Dear Lincoln Parent,

We know you are concerned about Lincoln overcrowding. Decisions will be
made very soon about how this problem will be addressed by the Mayor and
CPS. Attached to this email are letter templates to make it easy for you
to advocate for sensible and inexpensive solutions to Lincoln's
overcrowding. It is vital that the key decision makers hear the voices of
concerned parents who are against diverting tens of millions of scarce
public funds for our narrow interests as proposed by the Lincoln School

There are sensible and inexpensive solutions to Lincoln's overcrowding
that have been set aside by the Lincoln School Council. The attached
letters describe several such solutions, including one that involves no
financial cost and very little disruption to our community. Please take
the time to read them and consider sending them in your name to the key
decision-makers. Let them hear our voices so that we can bring an end to
overcrowding without tarnishing the reputation of our community.


Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions to Lincoln's Overcrowding

EMAIL [sent to me 10/19]

Here are the most current developments in the Lincoln Elementary School demand for a $30 million annex.

The Demand Letter was sent by Lincoln’s LSC to CPS for the annex.

The Lincoln LSC set up two principles that guided their quest for solutions and finally their demand to CPS. First, the solution could not separate or remove any current families, or future families, from the current Lincoln district. That move, especially the “future” families portion, was made to protect property values that may be negatively impacted by being redistricted out of Lincoln to anywhere else in the CPS system (one can investigate the heads of the WALE group to confirm this fact).

The second principle which guided them was that they may not consider any solution which may impact another school in any way. These two principles, pushed for by the pro-build WALE crowd, have essentially hobbled the LSC, ruled out any moderate or reasonable solutions and left only one solution, expansion of Lincoln Elementary, on the table.

This process has left many of the Lincoln community frustrated, dumbfounded and embarrassed that such an outrageous, expensive and inequitable proposal could have gotten so far. Hence, the formation of “Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions to Lincoln’s Overcrowding”, which is a group of parents looking for a forum to present their ideas but unwilling to expose themselves or their children to repercussions given the level of acrimony and intimidation that has occurred toward anyone who opposed the $30 million option.

To further complicate matters, one of the most respected and dominate teachers at Lincoln has a son who is a newly elected WALE (pro-build, anti-redistricting) member of the LSC. He has a young child and made the mistake of buying a house south of Armitage several years ago. The teachers and the principal flipping to support the project also makes parents reticent to speak out. Therefore, this group of parents, not willing to have their names revealed anywhere, has sent out their alternate proposal via anonymous email, after the Lincoln LSC made the incorrect and bold assertion that they had “united the community” behind the $30 million Lincoln expansion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions to Lincoln’s Overcrowding has been engaged and researching this issue every step of the way. However after analyzing available data, they cannot in good conscience advocate for a $30 million gift to Lincoln Elementary School when there is so much need elsewhere in the CPS system. CPS is responsible for educating over 404,000 students in 681 schools, over 90% of those are students of color and 84% live below the poverty level. CPS is currently running a $1 billion deficit and has an excess of 200,000 seats compared to enrolled students in its current portfolio of schools. CPS is scheduled to close 100 schools.

Lincoln Elementary School over the past decade has had an average enrollment growth of approximately 20 students per year. Given the disposable income and the options many in this wealthy neighborhood have had, many in Lincoln Park have chosen to attend private schools in the past. However in 2009, when the recession hit, Lincoln’s enrollment climbed for 3 years. This year, enrollment dropped from the projected 858 to 780. Lincoln is currently 24 students over its Maximum Enrollment Efficiency Range. What did this level of overcrowding prompt the Lincoln LSC to “demand”, a $30 million annex for 24 students! The estimates from both the CMH project and the LPH developments are approximately 65 students and 10-15 students respectively, less than 100 students total. Still easily manageable within CPS’s current portfolio of schools.

Within Lincoln Park, some within 3 blocks of Lincoln Elementary School, are 4 more CPS elementary schools: Alcott, Mayer, Newberry and LaSalle. These 4 schools currently have 2204 students enrolled and their combined ideal capacity is 2820; that is an excess of 616 seats! Directly south of Lincoln’s district are two more schools, Manierre and Jenner. They have currently have 707 students enrolled and their joint ideal capacity is 1650; that is an excess of 942 seats! Combined, in CPS schools immediately surrounding Lincoln Elementary, there are over 1500 excess seats compared to students. Lincoln Park does not have an overcrowding problem, CPS has a distribution problem.

What is the real issue? The Lincoln Park community is 86% white in a city that is 45% white. The average income of LP residents is over $90,000. per year. This issue is about property values and fear. Fortunately, there are sane, moderate and fair people who live in Lincoln Park too. Should scare public resources be used to further concentrate the wealthy, white minority of CPS students in an enclave in Lincoln Park? Should this be allowed in a public school system so needy? Apparently, many in Lincoln Park do not think so and are willing organize and do something about it.


Letter from parents 10-12-12


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  • I know that this comment is a little off topic but is anyone concerned regarding Florida and its Race-based Goals For Students Spark Debate. The story is on Huffington Post Education right now and it is quite interesting. Overall, the achievement / test goals are based on race. The African Americans have the lowest goals. I know that there is a great deal of talk regarding testing here in Chicago. Is this where this testing debate is going nationally? If so, are we sure that we want this.

  • Florida
    The state, for example, wants 90 percent of its Asian students, 88 percent of its white students, 81 percent of its Hispanic students and 74 percent of its black students reading well by 2018.

  • The letter and analysis is simply put brilliant. As I have said before CPS created the Lincoln School's community demand for this proposed addition by building a completely new Ogden, by building schools like Payton, and Northside Prep, the new Jones, and even Westinghouse for significant amounts of money that were not rational given the overall fiscal situation of the district even then.

    People who are paying big property taxes want returns beyond police, fire, garbage pickup, and basic infrastructure. Once the city and school district make political decisions on which community gets what other communities want theirs too. But the letter I think attempts to bring members of the Lincoln School community back to the real world of Chicago which statistically is over all a poor place with pockets of wealth.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, I agree that the new Ogden is possibly an example of inequitable budgeting. The SE high schools you mention do not, however, have neighborhood boundaries and educate students irrespective of where they live.. Whether selective enrollment schools should exist within CPS is separate issue which can be strongly debated from several perspectives I think.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    I am not sure I called the building of the various expensive SE high schools inequitable, but rather political decisions. These decisions were driven in very big part by political consituencies based on non-demographic factors. They may or may not have been inequitable in terms of showing bias or favoritism for one or another social economic group or geographical area of the city.

    But in all the cases I cited the school district did not have the fiscal ability to afford the elaborate projects undertaken and completed, but still being paid for. As CPS is now discovering it is under extreme fiscal stress and part of that stress has to do with the choices the district made for many years, these choices were not limited to what teachers get paid. Mayor Daley and his appointed Boards did not carry out these projects because they were corrupt, or necessarily looking to make money for contractors. Most of the calculations however were politically driven and in many cases students did benefit from them even though the district might not have been really able to afford them.

    Rod Estvan

  • Alexander, please note that the letters you posted are the "demand" letters prepared by Lincoln's LSC and distributed to all parents to sign and send in. Sadly, our community is being divided largely due to fear of the unknown......... People are scared that not being able to market their property as being in the Lincoln district will negatively affect their property values.

    Although Lincoln is still currently overcrowded enrollment is down 30 students from last year. Much of the overcrowding is in grades k-3. I always wonder how much of this overcrowding is temporary, families not moving to the suburbs as planned because they are staying put until condo values begin to go up again. Ironically suburban school districts are reporting dips in enrollment and attributing it to the recession and the fact that families with young children cannot sell their condos and upgrade to the suburban single family home.

  • What a bunch of entitled yuppies! Do most of them realize that so many surrouding schools have capacity.....and good, safe schools too within walking distance of the neighborhoods. A classic case of "we got ours now you get yours" . Check out the numbers in some of the Hispanic neighborhoods on the South Side.........schools that have double the number of students than they can handle surrounded by schools that are equally overcrowded.

  • Thanks you. In the late 1980s the principals, teachers and parents boarded buses to the CPS board meetings to complain about overcrowding in the Marquette Park neighborhood. We had classrooms with 50 students and CPS did very little other than to send in non-certified teachers to assist in the overcrowded rooms. This went on for years. Now that many of the families have moved west to escape gang violence CPS opens up a charter in the old Maria High School Building. Why aren't the demographics studied to address the overcrowded conditions on the southwest side?

  • Every large school district in the nation must have the power to move school boundaries to accomodate fluctuations in student populations. To not be able to do so would make the public school system unmanagable and be a misuse of public funds. Do these people think they own Lincoln Elementary School, and for how long do they think they own it for if they won't let CPS make decisions that will only affect future families who are not even part of the school yet? If they get an exemption, what happens if all of the other schools want an exemption. What happens if none of the underutilized schools are allowed to close; should tax payers have to pay for keeping all schools open no matter how few students? Should tax payers have to build a $30 million addition onto every school that demands it even if the increase in population might be temporary or there are seats available in schools right next door. Do these people realize they are part of a large, bankrupt public school system?
    Look at the New York public school system:
    CPS has to have the same flexibility.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I completely agree with you, CPS must actively manage its portfolio. It is a complete misuse of public funds if this construction project happens, whether it is funded by CPS, state or federal funds. Considering Lincoln's enrollment this year is significantly lower than projected, and 30 or so students lower than last year, the responsible thing to do would be to work within the resources available. I understand the resitance to redrawing some of the boundaries, but would it really be that bad to free up some seats at LaSalle or Newberry or send some kids to Alcott. There are many possible solutions available to ease the overcrowding. Seems the answer is for CPS to make a few minor adjustments to boundaries or magnet lotteries and see how the numbers at Lincoln trend.

    I agree that a plan needs to be in place to accomodate the proposed developments at the Lincoln Park Hospital and Children's Hospital site, though the proposed plans call primarily for smaller apartments and condos, but given the space available in surrounding schools with good reputations that should not pose a problem. CPS should plan for it now, a few years before these sites see occupants, instead of reacting later. It is just good management.

  • I'm a Lincoln Elementary School parent who received the October 18, 2012 email from the anonymous group calling itself Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions to Lincoln's Overcrowding as referred to in the above blog post. I sent a response to the group, and would like to add a few notes in response to the statement that we only have a "distribution" problem. The blog and text of the email from the group does not identify its proposed solution to the overcrowding problem. That solution was for parents to write to various officials to request that they reduce the proximity lottery for nearby magnet schools LaSalle and Newberry from 1.5 miles to 0.5 miles. My response to the Lincoln Parents group, set forth in full below (with the exception that I removed another individual's last name, as I did not seek his permission to post it), states why this solution is problematic:

    Dear Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions to Lincoln's Overcrowding (I'd address you by name, but note that you have not seen fit to identify yourself/ves):

    My husband and I, Lincoln parents, received your email and proposed letters to various elected and school officials. One of us has attended each and every LSC meeting on the overcrowding topic, and I believe that we are well versed in the various issues surrounding the problem and its proposed solutions. At many of the meetings, in order to remain polite and respectful and not wanting to publicly upbraid anyone, I have held my tongue when parents and community members, including two LSC representatives, have spoken in favor of changing the boundaries of Lincoln or other schools in order to address the overcrowding situation. Upon reviewing your email and proposed "solution," I can no longer do so.

    First, those who have been advocating for a new building/middle school have supported their position with facts and data, something sorely lacking from the generalized statements those in favor of boundary changing have made. Have you done any analysis of the following questions among others: (a) how many additional neighborhood students would LaSalle or Newberry accommodate if the proximities were changed from 1.5 miles to 0.5 miles? (b) how much of the current Lincoln boundaries would then be included in the new proximity lottery? (c) how many parents would choose to send their children to LaSalle or Newberry over Lincoln? (d) how many parents who would otherwise send their children to private school or another magnet school because they could not get in to LaSalle or Newberry would take some of those additional neighborhood seats? (e) how would the proposed changes affect the socio-economic and racial diversity at all three schools? I suspect the answer, in all cases, is that you have no idea. Of course, if you have done the analysis and can provide projections or relevant information, I welcome you to share it.

    I'd like to now look at these questions. We have to start with the fact that the proximity lottery only applies to incoming kindergarteners; therefore, the only affect changing the proximity will have is to possibly reduce the incoming kindergarten class for Lincoln. It will not reduce the number of students in any other grade. It will not create more space for the current students or get us our auditorium or full library back. As for the number of additional students that could be accommodated by a change in the proximity lottery, let's start by looking at LaSalle. LaSalle has 572 students in the school, evenly distributed throughout grades kindergarten through eight, placing approximately 64 children in each grade. The way that the lottery system works for magnet schools is that first priority goes to siblings of older students. 40% of the remaining seats go to kids within the boundary, with the remaining 60% going to the citywide lottery. (see http://policy.cps.k12.il.us/documents/602.2.pdf). This means that at most, if there are no younger siblings applying to LaSalle (which would be shocking), 26 students can attend LaSalle through the proximity lottery. My (admittedly unverified other than anecdotally) understanding is that many students are admitted through the sibling lottery. For this analysis, I'll assume that 10 incoming kindergarteners are younger siblings (which I believe to be conservative). If that is the case, then approximately 22 students are admitted through the proximity lottery. If we assume that right now those 22 students are evenly distributed by location and distance (with 1/3 within the first half mile; 1/3 in the next half mile; 1/3 in the next half mile), then reducing the proximity from 1.5 miles to 0.5 miles increases the number of spots of kids admitted from the first half mile by 14.

    Unfortunately, not all of those additional 14 students would live in the current Lincoln boundary. If you look at the map, you'll note that right now the entire Lincoln population falls within the LaSalle proximity boundary; by making this proposed change, upon reduction of the boundary to 0.5 miles from LaSalle, (a) you would actually remove Lincoln residents from the LaSalle proximity boundary as much of the Lincoln population would fall outside of that half mile, and (b) approximately 40% of that area falls south and west of Lincoln's boundary.
    So, again assuming that students are evenly distributed, of the 14 additional students that would be able to enter LaSalle, only approximately 60% (8) of them would be from within the Lincoln boundary. Thus, this proposed plan, which would have zero affect on any current grades and would keep the CMH site outside of the LaSalle proximity lottery, would reduce the Lincoln population by, at most, approximately 8 kindergarten students per year (and that is assuming that each and every additional student that chooses to attend LaSalle would have otherwise gone to Lincoln, rather than to a private school or other CPS school, an unlikely scenario).

    Newberry, which is not in the current Lincoln boundaries, has 565 students across pre-k through eight, placing approximately 57 kids in each grade. It is south and west of LaSalle, and reducing its proximity to 0.5 miles would encompass even less of the current Lincoln boundary than the reduced LaSalle district. Doing a similar mathematical analysis, assuming that just 7 siblings are admitted, then the proximity lottery allows for 20 students per year. Again assuming even distribution, changing the boundary from 1.5 miles to 0.5 miles would increase the number of students from the first half mile by 14. Again, not all of those 14 would live in the current Lincoln boundary, as over half of the half mile radius falls south and west of the Lincoln district. So, changing the Newberry boundary would reduce the Lincoln population by, at most, approximately 7 students (again assuming that each and every additional student that chooses to attend LaSalle would have otherwise gone to Lincoln, rather than to a private school or other CPS school, an unlikely scenario).

    So, the proposed plan reduces the Lincoln population by at most 15 kindergarten students per year (making some huge assumptions to get to those numbers), has no affect on any of the grades currently attending Lincoln, does nothing to address any influx of students from the CMH site if it is developed along the lines proposed, and keeps any residents of the new CMH site outside of the proximity lotteries for both LaSalle and Newberry. Further, neither your letter nor the comments at any of the various meetings set forth any analysis of how this proposal would affect the racial or ethnic diversity at any of the affected schools. This is of vital importance, not only because many of us believe that diversity is important to the vitality of our schools and that any proposal that moves minority students out of Lincoln is inherently problematic, but also because if over 50% of the student body of any magnet school is composed of any one racial or ethnic group, no proximity lottery will be held. (again, see http://policy.cps.k12.il.us/documents/602.2.pdf). A view of the map linked above shows that much of the current LaSalle and Newberry proximity boundaries includes portions of Wicker Park, Near North, former Cabrini Green, East Village, and a number of public and mixed income housing units. Therefore, I am baffled by your statement that changing the proximity boundaries "would not change" the character of the magnets "since the demographic makeup of the neighborhood admissions would be essentially unchanged." Looking at the map, it is naive to believe that the change in the proximity boundary would not significantly affect the diversity of all three schools. If that occurred, the proximity lottery would be suspended, and Lincoln would end up right back where we are now.

    I am continually baffled by the assertion that building the second Lincoln facility will increase the population of the school or the population density of the neighborhood. The school population has grown and continues to grow due to the popularity of the neighborhood and the terrific success of the school. No one is advocating increasing the Lincoln boundaries or doing anything similar to increase the number of students who are eligible to attend Lincoln; rather, the building proposal is geared toward serving the current Lincoln district population. It seems to me that all of your boundary changing proposals are geared toward removing or keeping students from Lincoln -- presumably, though, not your children. It is very easy to state that people should be happy with your proposed solutions when you are confident that your own children will be guaranteed their Lincoln educations. The new building solution would guarantee a Lincoln education for every child in the current Lincoln boundaries, a goal we should all support.

    Finally, I find it particularly troubling that you have chosen to cloak yourselves (yourself?) in anonymity. The WALE group was started by Eric G---- quite publicly, has a facebook group that identifies its members and supporters, and each mailing I have received from it has identified the senders/supporters. Who are you? I have no way of knowing if you are actually Lincoln parents. You may be residents of the community. You may be representatives of the CMH developer. You could be anyone. None of us would permit our children to interact with or take direction from unidentified strangers on the internet, yet that is exactly what your email asks us to do. If you have the courage of your convictions, you should have the integrity to identify yourself.

    Andrea -- mother of a Lincoln kindergartener and a Lincoln 3rd grader

    I note that I received a one line response from the group that I have been removed from its mailing list.

    As for the argument that Lincoln Park does not have an overcrowding problem, but instead a distribution problem, this is something that has been looked at and discussed. Both Newberry and LaSalle are magnet schools. In order to change that to accommodate neighborhood children who would otherwise go to Lincoln, CPS would either have to change the proximity lottery (problematic, as discussed above) or it would have to demagnetize those schools, redistrict Lincoln and turn them into neighborhood schools -- which is the exact solution that CPS proposed last year and was universally derided for (a) the negative impact it would have on non-Lincoln Park residents, as it would reduce good school options for kids outside of Lincoln Park; and (b) the fact that the proposed solution would actually have served to remove a number of minority and low income children from Lincoln (many of whom reside south of Armitage). Further, I'm not sure how LaSalle and Newberry capacity numbers are calculated, as both are magnets with capped enrollments and massive waiting lists of children who have applied to get in but failed. When you look at Alcott and Oscar Mayer, the empty seats are mainly in the upper grades. Those schools have seen tremendous improvement over recent years and have become extremely popular, with more and more neighborhood families sending their children there. My understanding is that those schools have analyzed their data and believe that they will be facing the same overcrowding situation as Lincoln within the next few years.

    Finally, as for the argument made in some of the comments that Lincoln only faces overcrowding because people cannot sell their homes and make the inevitable move to the suburbs, I can tell you that such is not the case for our family or for most of the families we know at Lincoln. Better schools mean that more and more people can make and are making the choice to remain in the city to raise their families. I can also name multiple families who moved to the Chicago area from out of the state or out of the country and chose to move into the Lincoln school district because they could live in the city and give their children a high quality public education.

    Thank you for your time. I appreciate that you provide a forum for all of these ideas to be discussed.

  • In reply to AndCap:

    I can't speak to the rest of this, but specific to the impact of the 15 kindergartener change you outlined, your analysis seems to be missing the compound impact of reducing kindergarten enrollment. If you are indicating that you would be removing 15 kids from each year's kindergarten class, the impact is actually substantial. The reason is that this year's kindergarteners are next year's first graders, and the following year's second graders, etc. When you take them out (or put them in another school) they are most likely there the next year as well, and so on. The first year impact would be to reduce enrollment from what it otherwise would be by 15, the next year the impact would be about 30, the following year about 45, the following about 60, etc. This would continue for as many years as you have grades at the school. The shorthand for this is that the long term reduction in enrollment at the school would be the percentage that the kindergarten enrollment reduction represents of the total kindergarten class enrollment. As with any modeling of this type you would need to adjust for the cohort-survival specifics at the school, but as a rough example, having 15 kindergarteners start at another school each year for a school that would otherwise have 70 kindergarteners, would reduce the capacity needed at the school by about 20% from what it otherwise would be long term. So in our hypothetical school's case, an approximate reduction of about 125 kids. It is the same effect as any other type of mathematical compounding, small changes compounded can actually turn into relatively large numbers. Not sure about this school's specific numbers, but seems like they would be in this ballpark. I don't mean any disrespect, but it appears that you did 95% of the math needed to show how this could work.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The specifics for Lincoln. There are 69 kindergarteners this year. Given that 15 might be a stretch, let's go with 10 kindergarteners total per year that would now not be in Lincoln enrollment, but instead LaSalle or Newberry. That would work itself out over time to be about a 14% reduction in the enrollment that would otherwise be at Lincoln, so about 110 kids. We are being conservative, so let's drop it by 20% just to be safe. We have freed up capacity for about 88 students applying fairly conservative assumptions.

    A reasonable guess for the enrollment impact of the Children's Memorial Hospital and Lincoln Part Hospital developments is about 60 kids and 15 kids respectively. She would appear to be dismissing a solution that by her own math has the ability to mitigate the total enrollment impact of both these development projects.

    BTW, what you seem to be referring to as “compound impact” in the beginning is really adding each subsequent year to the reduction in enrollment, where toward the end you refer “any other type of mathematical compounding”, which most people would think refers to something similar to compound interest. The math here is not like compound interest where the amounts grow exponentially. The numbers here grow linearly, as the math in your example illustrates, until the initial kindergarten cohort graduates from the school.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    A much, much simpler way to look at this is that there are approximately 440 proximity seats between Newberry and LaSalle. It may just be me, but its seems like someone should be able to find a creative way to use some part of these seats to help with the “overcrowding” at LE. Isn't LE only over-enrolled by 25 or 30 students this year?

  • In reply to SilenceDG:

    CPS uses a an enrollment range to determine if a school is underutilized, efficient or overcrowded. Lincoln's range is 504 -756 students, with an ideal program enrollment of 630. So while only 24 students over the maximum, conditions at Lincoln remain very crowded since the current enrollment of 780 is 150 students over the ideal number.

    Of significance is the fact that Lincoln's enrollment dipped this year. Enrollment was projected at 853. Current enrollment is not only lower than projected, but lower than last year's actual enrollment of 809. This dip of 30 is likely due to some natural attrition combined with a strong message sent last year that a stronger effort would be made to identify those families enrolled in Lincoln using a fraudulent address. Whatever the reason, many more students left than enrolled and two teaching postions had to be eliminated once the 20 day enrollment numbers were in.

    Lincoln's enrollment really started to climb in September 2009, after the economic downturn really took hold. Lincoln is still seriously overcrowded and programs are being sacrificed because of the large nubmers , but given that enrollment dipped by 30 students this year how can you advocate building to accomodate continued growth. The fact is no one knows what the enrollment trend is going to be. Someone above mentioned that there are 69 enrolled in kindergarten this year. I believe last year there were closer to 90 kindergarteners. I apologize for not having those class breakdowns available.

    In light of the dip in enrollment, doesn't it make more sense to pursue less expensive solutions? Tweaking the proximity lotteries of magnet schools located within a neighborhood school's attendance boundaries seems like a pretty sensible approach to try. No one is suggesting that students be removed from their current schools. As for the diversity argument, yes it is true that giving future students who live south of Armitage the possibility of attending Newberry or LaSalle would eventually change Lincoln's demographics. Lincoln is a neighborhood school and the neighborhoods in Chicago are what they are. The low income students of color who live south of Armitage will have a better chance of getting into a magnet program within walking distance of their homes. When CPS first proposed changing Lincoln's boundaries last year, I seem to recall part of that proposal was to add another kindergarten class to LaSalle II so that the overall number of magnet seats available would not be reduced.

    No solution is ideal nor will it satisfy everyone, but how do you responsibly advocate a capital investment when the overcrowding trend begins to reverse before a building is even approved. At least give it a try and not rush to build before you even know which way enrollment is trending.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The 630 "ideal" number is another way they are making the problem look worse than it really is. Outside of the justification to build a second school, is anyone (particularly the Principal) indicating they really want to return to 630? If CPS starts offloading parts of the attendance area to "solve" this problem you can bet that the Principal, staff, and parents would find a way to live with 750 or maybe even 780 real fast. I certainly hope that 630 wasn't the starting point for all of the so-called "analysis" that is behind the demand for the second school. They would be starting off with a phantom need for 120 seats. Those seats already exist at the school. I am not saying you shouldn't reduce the overcrowding, but to 630? Really?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    All good points though there is some additional context. Lincoln's numbers began rising in 2009 and really spiked in 2011. The school has been using every nook and cranny available for space and they really have nowhere on the current campus to expand. At the same time, the community was facing redevelopment of two large parcels of land, the former Lincoln Park Hospital site one block away and Childrens Hospital right across the street. So while the enrollment numbers increased with the recession and space continued to become tight, the school also had no idea what effect the redevelopment projects would have on enrollment, and really were not getting any attention from CPS or support of the Alderman.

    I don't support the building proposal and I believe in smaller, manageable k-8 schools, but it is important that the context be understood.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Of all the unknowns in this, the two things that can be known with some certainty are the seats needed for Lincoln Park Hospital and Children's Memorial Hospital. Lincoln Park Hospital will need about 16 seats. A local developer with this type of project experience can confirm this estimate. Children's could be about 60 seats, but who cares? Anybody with any sense at all would be putting this project into the under-enrolled school attendance area it borders to its North.

    A suggestion for Children's, run to Alcott as fast as you can, after all it is only four short blocks from your property. Your standing in the community and reputation are too important to be involved in the kind of unsavory backroom political deal that would be needed to pull off something as absurd as building a new school to expand capacity for an attendance area that is literally bounded on the North, West, and South by substantially under-enrolled schools.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    630 is CPS's target capacity for the current Lincoln facility. Contrary to your implication, it is not a number that the Lincoln community fabricated to score PR points. It also happens to be the number beyond which educational goals at Lincoln are compromised due to space constraints. That is not based on a "so-called" analysis. That is based on an actual analysis. Unlike your comment.

  • In reply to LincolnParent:

    Your use of 630 is misleading. Per CPS standards, the school started being overcrowded at an enrollment of 757 not 631 as you seem to suggest. As the school sits today is is over-enrolled by 29 seats per CPS space utilization standards.

    Furthermore the effect on “educational goals” of increasing enrollment from 630 to 810 is not something we need to speculate about. Simply look at the change in any objective measure of performance at the school between 2005 and 2012. If someone didn't understand the difference between correlation and causality they might think that overcrowding, by your definition, was significantly improving educational outcomes.

  • In reply to LincolnParent:

    CPS is pretty specific with regard to what they call “Overcrowded”. Please see the last line in the School Space Utilization Report. District299reader is correct, Overcrowded starts at 757. 756 and lower is deemed “Efficient”. You probably aren't going to garner much sympathy if you are indicating that you are building a new facility so this school can move to “Ideal” rather than just move to “Efficient”, or more importantly, if you are discarding solutions like the one being discussed here because they only move the school to Efficient rather than Ideal.


  • In reply to AndCap:


    Would it be possible provide a link to the enrollment projections that show the need for the second school? These might be helpful in this discussion. Thanks.

  • In reply to AndCap:

    The diversity issue you are suggesting for the Magnet schools is dubious. 60% of the enrollment at the two Magnet schools is coming from the Magnet lottery. You are talking about a change that will potentially impact less than 10% of the enrollment at the two Magnet schools. The .5 radius is within the 1.5 radius, so its demographics are already a factor in the current diversity of the school. Do you really believe the demographic difference in 1.5 radius area outside of the .5 radius area is high enough to materially affect the diversity in total at the schools? I don't see how that is possible, but I am open to being convinced if you can provide the math.

  • In reply to AndCap:

    Shame on you and all those other elitist parents at Lincoln!! Is your head in the sand? It is elitism or ignorance at it's peak!! There are literally schools falling apart in many neighborhoods and to DEMAND a new school in lincoln park? Disgusting!

  • In reply to AndCap:

    If there are more preschools opening in Lincolln Park and more families with young children intending to stay and enroll in CPS, then I think this is a perfect opportunity for the new CEO to conduct an analysis of all the schools in the Fullerton area using recent census data and includig all planned developments. Perfect time to rebalance the portfolio.

  • Isn't it worth at least trying the proximity idea at LaSalle? Even if it takes away 10 kindergarteners next fall, that might be just enough to help make one less classroom if more kids leave for other reasons, or if the baby boom has passed. Then at least we might get our auditorium back next year. Otherwise what are we going to do?

    Also, we have to remember that tons of kids that go to Alcott and Oscar Mayer are from outside the district, just like Lincoln used to have tons of kids from outside the district. So full there might not mean full of kids from their district.

  • WALE = We Are Lincoln Elementary, a website and closed Facebook group


  • This is an argument that could go back and forth, point for counter point and start to go to a very unproductive place once people begin to pull race into the fray.

    Fact: Magnet schools like LaSalle and Hawthorne located in neighborhoods that are primarily white and middle to upper income will become much less diverse in a few short years. Automatic admission of siblings and a greater number of seats set aside for the proximity lottery will lead to this. It has already begun and the effect of these two policy changes will continue to compound.

    I can't say this is a fact but there is speculation that the lottery magnet school model no longer serves a purpose in CPS now that the consent decree has been lifted. CPS cannot afford the extra funding or bussing that magnets require. In the next 10 years or so I would speculate that the magnet elementary schools are phased out and CPS will look to Charter schools to provide alternative models and choice for parents.

    Fact: CPS has more seats in Lincoln Park and the greater Near North area than students to fill them.

    Fact: Schools in other neighborhoods are far more crowded than Lincoln and surrounded by schools that are equally crowded.

    Fact: Lincoln's enrollment did not increase this year.

    Fact: Lincoln is part of the Chicago Public Schools. Their Local School Council can advise, advocate and recommend, but in the end it cannot demand millions of dollars from a system operating at a deficit.

    The group at Lincoln will likely hold up an important real estate development and the transfer of funds needed for Lurie Children's Hospital to begin to offset it's $90 million building fund deficit, but that does not make it right.

  • Alcott is .8 of a mile away and underutilized. Lincoln parents why don't you stop being selfish and use that school?? 30 million for a new school? crazy

  • Manierre is also 1.3 miles away with very low numbers. Lincoln middle school kids can attend. Unless the snobby lincoln parents dont want their kids going to school with black kids??? Make original lincoln PK-5, and the Manierre campus 6-8. Problem solved.

  • To those who are critical of the desire for families in the Lincoln district to stay in the Lincoln district, please ask yourself a few questions. How did Lincoln Elementary get to be such a great school? Why doesn’t every CPS neighborhood K-8 school achieve outcomes like Lincoln does? And who are the folks who are opposed to the idea of building a new facility to educate the growing number of students in the attendance area? Let’s look at these questions one at a time. As you read this, let’s set aside the numbers for a moment and look at the personal side of this debate. Who are the people being impacted here, and why?

    Lincoln Elementary got to be such a great school through the hard work and dedication of parents stretching back 40+ years. Parents who devoted and continue to devote their time, their talents, their heart and sometimes their money to their children’s education and the school that delivers it. Parents that support the teachers and administration, empowering them to focus their efforts on their core mission: educating the neighborhood’s children. That has created a virtuous cycle. Good teachers and administrators want to come to a school with a supportive and involved parent body, which means Lincoln is constantly attracting the best people. Good teachers and administrators produce good educational outcomes, which in turn attracts parents to the neighborhood who want the best education for their children and are ready to do their part to continually improve school. And the fact that Lincoln calls an affluent neighborhood home has meant Lincoln has had an easier time than many CPS schools in fundraising (although it also means that Lincoln gets a much smaller amount of needs-based funding than other CPS schools). When you boil that down to its basic elements, it comes down to successive generations of Lincoln parents stepping up to make Lincoln great. CPS should hold Lincoln up as a model so that other neighborhood schools can emulate what has worked at Lincoln. But if the outcome of having worked so hard is that half of those who have done the work are thrown out of the Lincoln attendance area, where is the equity? Where is the fairness? Where is the incentive for parents with children in other CPS neighborhood schools to roll up their sleeves, get involved and make their school great? If they do a really good job, maybe they’ll get tossed out of their school too. Is that the message that CPS should be sending?

    Next: Why doesn’t every CPS neighborhood K-8 school achieve outcomes like Lincoln does? After all, there are plenty of affluent neighborhoods in Chicago, and every single one has a CPS neighborhood K-8 school. The reason is that it takes hard work, it takes the dedication of multiple generations of parents, it takes a long time and it takes some luck too. There are no guarantees of success. That is why you can’t flippantly decide to cut homes out of the Lincoln attendance area and move them to an adjoining attendance area. That adjoining attendance may have a good CPS school, but it isn’t Lincoln and isn’t guaranteed to get there in the near term. It isn’t the neighborhood school those parents chose when they relocated to the Lincoln neighborhood. Sure, you could slice off the northern portion of the district and move it to Alcott, slice off the western portion and move it to Mayer, slice off the southeast portion and move it to LaSalle or Newberry (after you have demagnetized or relocated those programs), but in so doing you will deprive neighborhood families of what many of them helped to build with their own hands, their own hours and their own dollars. And you will decimate the community that has made Lincoln successful, likely decimating the school along with it. That isn’t right. Grandfathering isn’t a solution either. If Lincoln families had wanted their children to attend an out-of-district K-8 school they wouldn’t have worked so hard to find a home in the Lincoln district. They want their children to attend the school that their neighbors attend, not for their children to be the outsider attending the school in the attendance area next door. And please don’t assume that Lincoln parents are just a bunch of wealthy landowners who made no sacrifices to live where they do. Many of us rented or purchased apartments or homes that were significantly smaller and in worse condition than similarly priced units in other neighborhoods specifically because it was the only way to gain access to a Lincoln education. It is yet another sacrifice that does not deserve to be rewarded with banishment. There isn’t a parent in the city that would be indifferent between sending their children to Lincoln and sending them to Manierre, so please don’t fault Lincoln parents for feeling the same way.

    Lastly, who are the folks who are opposed to the idea of building a new facility to accommodate the growing demand for a Lincoln education? At the risk of generalizing, they fall into three main camps. The first, and most vocal camp (although still a small minority of Lincoln residents), consists of several people who live near the school and are concerned that a Lincoln facility at the CMH site will increase the height and density that would otherwise be approved for that location or increase traffic. They generally do not have children at Lincoln, have no youngsters who are Lincoln bound, and in some cases don’t have children at all. These are many of the same people who strenuously objected to the life-saving helicopter landings at CMH because it might be noisy near their homes for a few more minutes every day. They are holding the neighborhood hostage to achieve their goals of retarding development at CMH and hiding behind “the best interests of the children” while they do it. While I approve of their mission to preserve the character of the neighborhood and prevent highrises from being built at that site, I find their methods and their single-minded focus on building height to be inappropriate and not in the public interest. The second camp are a few Lincoln parents who believe it is their right to have a neighborhood school that is “small”, and are willing to kick their fellow neighbors out of the district to achieve that goal. Where the banished families go is of less concern to them. This despite the fact that there is no compelling evidence that smaller K-8 schools do a better job of educating children than larger K-8 schools (in fact, the data from CPS schools appears to show the opposite). Not surprisingly, these few folks consider their homes to be in a “safe” zone that will always remain in the Lincoln attendance area (these folks are in the distinct minority, since the vast majority of voices are in support of the LSC’s goals). While we are all free to lobby in our own self-interest, I don’t have much patience for those that would actively harm others to serve their own personal preferences. The third camp consists of concerned citizens who feel that spending money on a school in Lincoln Park is inappropriate given the level of needs elsewhere in the city. To me, this is the only argument that has merit. But I disagree with the assertion that no money can be spent to support a highly performing school just because other schools also have facility needs. To institutionalize this approach would create a race to the bottom, where no school received support until it was on the verge of failure or worse. Any businessperson will tell you that it is far less expensive and less risky over the long term to invest in and maintain a successful venture that it is to turn around a distressed venture. Over time, there will be greater resources available for the system as a whole if success is maintained and encouraged at the same time underperformance is identified and improved. Neither CPS nor the City of Chicago will fare well if the neighborhoods that provide the vast majority of city tax revenues are starved of the resources necessary to educate their children. (Rod Estvan, I know that you are in this last group. Your record shows that you are someone acting on publicly-stated principles and committed to the education of Chicago’s youth. Thank you for your efforts in this regard. I would just caution that you may want to be wary of the propagandists whose narrative you have embraced on this topic. The goals of the Rational Solutions crowd are neither clear nor principled, and have nothing to do with the best interests of Chicago’s students.)

    Finally, let’s address a few misconceptions. First, contrary to the assertions of some posters, Lincoln’s in-district attendance has grown steadily for at least 10 years and was not some “blip” due to the economy or condo owners being unable to sell and flee to the suburbs as planned. Maybe in other districts, but not in Lincoln. Parents move here specifically because they want to stay in the city, and Lincoln is one of a small number of neighborhood CPS schools that gives them the option to put down roots in the city without having to feel like they compromised on schools to do so. Second, the drop in Lincoln’s enrollment this year was a one-time drop due to the concerted effort by the school to weed out non-neighborhood families who were using a phony address to gain admission. It is does not represent a change in a long term trend that is clearly evident over the past 10 years: neighborhood demand for a Lincoln education is growing. One need only look at the number of preschools opening in the area and the residential development going on to realize that this trend is unlikely to reverse. Third, it is not possible to solve the overcrowding problem at Lincoln by changing LaSalle’s proximity boundary. After all, Lincoln area families already make up almost half of LaSalle’s proximity admissions! I think AndCap did a great job with the math. Even if Lincoln enrollment is reduced by 50 seats in total over the next 5 years due to this change (and that assumes there are enough families in the proposed micro-radius who choose LaSalle over Lincoln, an aggressive assumption), by then, both the CMH and Lincoln Park Hospital developments will be complete. All this at a building that is already 150 students over its target capacity. Those developments could easily add 100-200 new students at Lincoln, in addition to the organic growth in the neighborhood. Whoever thinks Webster Square will only result in “16” students at Lincoln is misguided. There are 152 dwellings going in there, including 8 townhomes! CMH will likely have at least 500 dwellings. Only 60 additional students? Highly unlikely. Changing LaSalle’s proximity boundary can make a dent, but it can’t solve the problem. But that dent does not come without costs, and those costs must be considered. Half of the Lincoln attendance area would actually be removed from the LaSalle proximity boundary by this change, which would increase the number of students at Lincoln. Parts of the city where children currently have no access to a great neighborhood school would lose proximity access to LaSalle so that students who already have a great neighborhood school can have two great schooling options instead, an outcome that seems decidedly unfair. And shrinking the proximity boundary could mean that a single racial group could comprise more than 50% of LaSalle, in which case the proximity lottery goes away altogether, which would increase demand for Lincoln rather than reduce it. Of course, the Rational Solutions folks already know this, which is why despite their claim to have been “researching this issue every step of the way”, they have yet to put forth a shred of data to support their assertions. Their real goal is to hold out false hope of a solution and derail the process until the CMH facility is fully planned, at which point redistricting will be the only solution left on the table. Finally, there is the issue of the Lincoln community actively advocating a change to the attendance policies of other CPS schools, which seems heavy-handed, selfish and open to justifiable criticism. The idea to change LaSalle’s proximity boundary is one that merits consideration, but it is not a no-brainer by any stretch of the imagination and can never be a stand-alone solution to overcrowding at Lincoln.

    Let’s reward the efforts of the Lincoln community, not punish them. Let’s invest behind successful CPS programs and use them as models elsewhere in the city, not dismantle them. Let’s increase access to a Lincoln education, not strangle it. And let’s make decisions about allocating education resources based on the best interests of the children, not the opaque motivations of those attempting to subvert those interests to serve their own narrow goals. That is what I call rational.

  • In reply to LincolnParent:

    It might be helpful if you could provide the enrollment figures for Webster Square that were used by the LSC. Even more helpful would be the entire set of enrollment projections that prompted the need for the second school.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Another rough way to gauge the enrollment for a large project is to look at what part of the total housing or households it represents of the attendance area. I can't confirm the number, but I have been told the total for the school's attendance boundary is about 12,500 homes/households(?). If someone has a better number please post it. With this number Webster Square represents less than 1.3 percent of housing in the district. That applied to the enrollment at the school gives you 10 seats, so the developer generated estimate of 16 doesn't look like it can be that far off. These still look pretty small compared to the 440 proximity seats at Newberry and LaSalle.

  • In reply to LincolnParent:

    Is there verifiable data behind the following claim?

    “the drop in Lincoln’s enrollment this year was a one-time drop due to the concerted effort by the school to weed out non-neighborhood families who were using a phony address to gain admission”

    The school is 80 under the projection. Are you saying 80 left the school due to this?

  • Don't you think the principal would have accounted for the people he knew were out of district, sent letters to and "housecleaned" out of Lincoln? In the Principal's Report at the October LSC meeting, Mr. Armendariz seemed as surprised as everyone else at the meeting that the enrollment had dropped so much from the projections. Otherwise, why would he hire two teachers to accommodate the large growth in population projected, just to then lay off those very same teachers one month later. This points out how flawed the assumptions were that WALE used to arrive at their faulty and inaccurate conclusions. Their faulty analysis was born out in the very first and easiest year to predict, this school year, they were 80 students off! Given that, anyone, especially CPS and the administration at Lincoln, should think twice about using any numbers or projections provided by WALE in making their final decisions regarding a solution to overcrowding at Lincoln, especially if that solution costs $30 million or more.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    They have a bigger issue if what they are indicating is true. Any enrollment projections they have done would be invalid. Having these large numbers of out of area students in the school would raise enrollment for each year each child attended the school, and raise enrollment growth for the years they began attending the school. Any forecasting methodology that used these years would be biased to over forecast if out of area students did not continue to attend the school at the same rate. I am inclined to think that they may be at least partially right about this. The school's enrollment changes fluctuate year-over-year more than would be expected for an area that has a relatively stable housing stock. This could explain part of the variation. If this is really a variable in the school's enrollment, it needs to be ended, or at least quantified and managed to be at a constant level otherwise it would be nearly impossible to build any reliable forecasting model for the school.

  • This statement merits some comment:
    "Lincoln Elementary got to be such a great school through the hard work and dedication of parents stretching back 40+ years. Parents who devoted and continue to devote their time, their talents, their heart and sometimes their money to their children’s education and the school that delivers it. Parents that support the teachers and administration, empowering them to focus their efforts on their core mission: educating the neighborhood’s children. That has created a virtuous cycle."

    As most posters know by now I graduated from Lincoln School in 1967, it was a realitively higher performing school back then. That was 45 years ago. But the defining factor of why Lincoln School maintained its level of academic achievement during that time was the fact that the school was overwhelmingly white. White schools got a better deal back then and there are numerous court records that can back up this statement.

    As anyone who grew up in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s can verify the percentage of racially intergrated schools back then was very small, if you want to see the data go and look up a 1967 report titled "Racial Isolation in Public Schools" published by the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The vast majoirty of white students in CPS were in schools where the vast majority of students were white.

    Lincoln School only had a relatively small number of Hispanic students, mostly Puerto Ricans. The first large Puerto Rican wave of migration to Chicago came in the late 1940s where many settled in the "La Clark" neighborhood around Dearborn,La Salle and Clark Street this community was destroyed by Carl Sandburg Village under the guidance of Arthur Rubloff. What is now Oz park was also a heavily Puerto Rican community which was why it was turned into a park.

    But most of the Puerto Rican community that was eventually completely forced out of Lincoln Park was outside of Lincoln School's boundaries. Lincoln School had another significant minority community that was Japanese Americans who fled to Chicago during WWII to escape being imprisioned on the west coast. The children of these families were generally very high performing students with wonderful families.

    The majority of white students were working class kids with stay at home moms and very structured families. A minority of white students were poor Appalachians called openly by Lincoln School's staff hillbillies. They were often punished and several appalachian kids I knew were placed in what was in effect the CPS prision school called the Chicago Parental School.

    The parental school law provided that any truant officer or any agent of the Board of Education or any reputable citizen of Chicago could petition the Circuit or County Court (juvenile Branch) to inquire into the case of any child between seven and fourteen years of age who was found not to be attending school or was reported to be guilty of habitual truancy or of persistent violation of the rules of the school, and the court was authorized to commit any such child to the Parental School until they became fourteen or sixteen years old I honestly don't recall which. Some students sent to this school were identified as "sex truants," and as young children teachers called them after removal "perverts."

    These children were kept in dorms and marched to and from classes under the watchful eyes of guards. I visited one of my friends with his brother once and it really shook me up. Cynthia Kay Barron has written a history of this school if you want to learn about it (published by Loyola University of Chicago in1993). By the way the school still has its defenders.

    Parents back then gave no money directly to Lincoln School or a friends of group and the PTA at the school was not very strong. Families were far more likely to have been involved with local church groups and St. Paul's church down the block from Lincoln School had a strong youth program back then as did other churches in the community.

    Lincoln School during my early years was filled with older normal school teachers, these were teachers that never went to a four year college, but rather to a shorter post high school program. Eventually they were forced to retire and younger trained teachers came into the school who were much better teachers. I can recall the difference between the iron discipline of the older normal school teachers and the younger college educated teachers. Many of these teachers were very good and the older group was largely gone by the time I was in around fourth grade.

    The only minority teacher at Lincoln School when I attended was one Japanese American teacher was wonderful and creative. So LincolnParent really doesn't have the entire picture.

    Rod Estvan

  • I think LincolnParent has the picture as he wants to see it. This appears to be a classic example of the haves demanding more, after all they earned it! They think because they are successful, more should be given to them, they "deserve to be rewarded", it would be the "equitable", "fair" and "rational" thing to do. They appear to have been born on third base and think they have hit a home run. We have seen this before.They have the money and the good fortune to choose a great school in an affluent neighborhood. But to them the school is great because they are in it, their children are in it! They are more devoted, dedicated, talented, rich, virtuous, the "best people". They are entilted to stay, they are entitled to determine the boundaries and if they must, entilted to demand or buy a solution that suits their needs, protects their property values. However, in reality they have inherited the school parents a decade before built, not the one they built. They should roll up their sleeves and work hard in whatever school they are in because it is their civic duty, not because they deserve or expect a reward in the end. But they have not yet built the school they are in, nor did the current community of younger parents. Let's hope though that under their stewardship they do not hand off a school so changed or fractured that neither Rod nor any other former students recognize it. I also only hope and pray that LincolnParent is not in charge of public policy or the distribution of public resources for the rest of us undeserving souls.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    for those interested in the analysis and figures used to support the building of a middle school for Lincoln elementary, they are available at :


    As posted by Mr. Russo above. Mr. Estvan, this information should answer your questions

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Thanks for this. Can you point us to where the enrollment projections are?

  • In reply to SilenceDG:

    look under the Alternative Plans section, there are several presentations of the analysis

    There is a community group called WALE (We Are Lincoln Elementary) that has a website where you can look for updates (www.ChicagoWALE.com) and a Facebook group where ideas are shared (http://www.facebook.com/groups/153888551383988/).

  • Part of what makes it a great school is the money raised every year by parents to supplement what CPS provides. I am told that it is about $300,000 and pays for many of the things that help make Lincoln the school it is. To put the $30 million needed to build this school in perspective, it would equal 10 years of this level of funding for 10 schools that don't have the means to raise money from its parents. Wouldn't it be considerably more equitable to give 10 schools the opportunities this money can provide rather than provide it to just one?

  • Did you know that the current CPS estimate of how much the Lincoln annex will really cost is $50 million? Did you know that CPS's current capital budget is only $100 million? Did you know that CPS is currently $1 billion in debt and has 200,000 excess seats? Did you know that CPS has excess schools and is scheduled to close 100 of those schools? Did you know that between analysizing the spring LSC election results and the current WALE petition signatories, the estimate of the number of families at Lincoln that are actually advocating for the $50 million Lincoln annex is only about 50 families? Did you know that works out to about $1 million per demanding family at Lincoln? Did you know that after this year's enrollment drop Lincoln is currently considered by CPS only 25 students overpopulated? Did you know that works out to $2 million per student to solve the Lincoln overcrowding issue? Did you know that Lincoln Elementary is surrounded by under-utilized schools within and adjacent to its boundary? Did you know that some of those schools may have to close to fill the new and unneeded middle school that those 50 Lincoln families are demanding? Did you know that Lincoln Park High School has needed renovation for decades and that is now being put on the back burner? Did you know that the Lincoln middle school issue is holding up the CMH development and therefore payment to Children's Memorial Hospital so it can cover its $90 million building fund deficit? Did you know that neither CMH, McCaffrey Interests, or CPS has any intension or money to fund the Lincoln middle school? Did you know that the money therefore must come from the State of Illinois which has the worst state deficit in the nation at $8 billion? Did you think a $50 million Lincoln expansion is a wise and equitable expenditure of scarce public resources? If not, please contact Senate President John Cullerton, Rep. Ann Williams, Mayor Emanuel, and Alderman Michele Smith immediately and voice your opposition!!!

  • So let's say that Lincon does get this building and expands to a school of 1200. Lincoln's growth numbers and current enrollment do not indicate that they would be able to fill a school of this size from their intake boundaries. Even with increased residential development in the Lincoln Park and CMH hospital sites, proven population forecasting models show that it is unlikely that the units proposed will result in more than 60 additional students at the high end. Current enrollment is 780 at Lincoln, enrollment of 840 means that Lincoln would have to could expand its IG program that draws students CItywide to the middle school....more bussing and congestion. Do they then open up to students from the surrounding neighborhoods who can walk and would not rely on bussing? Students from Alcott and Mayer and Agassiz, all udnerutilized schools. To remain efficient by CPS standards a bigger Licoln would have to draw students from outside the intake area.......more cars, more congeston on that narrow stretch of Orchard.

    Would schools in the surrounding neighborhoods become smaller? Or do students begin to be bussed in from far away, increasing the traffic congestion on a very narrow one way street that would now be lined with 5 schools in a a four block stretch from Belden to Wrightwood.........Lincoln Elementary, Lincoln Middle, Park West Preschool, St. Clements and Alcott? How staggered can the drop off and pick up times become within the confines of a 7 hour school day?

    Alcott and Mayer are already underutilized and draw a great number of students from outside their intake areas. If Lincoln draws from outside it's intake area because it now has 1200 seats to fill, would Alcott and Mayer become smaller? Would families from the Alcott and Mayer intake boudaries choose Lincoln instead if they had the opportunity? Would CPS, already forced to close schools to address of portfolio of buildings that far exceed current demands, look at closing Alcott or Mayer or Agassiz?

    Lincoln does not need to be a bigger school. CPS does not need to spend at least a third of it's capital budget on this construction project. An additional building for Lincoln does not make sense, there is no money to pay for it and the consequences would reach far beyond the Lincoln Park and OldTown communities. Contact your local officials, whoever they may be, this issue affects taxpayers and children far beyond the 43rd Ward.

  • Thank you, LincolnParent. Very well said. And this is the proof(below) that the "anti-CMH" efforts are being lead by NIMBYs who simply are worried about traffic and congestion -- and hiding behind misinformation about school attendance and growth. What's worse is they're hiding behind false concern for state budgets and low income children. They could care less about other schools, other children, and state budgets. They care solely about traffic, congestion, and density in Lincoln Park. I've seen (and heard) their remarkable anger, viciousness, self-righteousness and cruelty with my own eyes -- at meetings they claim they were afraid to speak at.

    "... more cars, more congeston on that narrow stretch of Orchard. Or do students begin to be bussed in from far away, increasing the traffic congestion on a very narrow one way street that would now be lined with 5 schools in a a four block stretch from Belden to Wrightwood......... "

    IF you don't want to see school children walking past your door, WHY on earth do you live so close to a school? If you so fear the color yellow, why look out onto a school yard? It's truly a shame that some are so opposed to change that they have destroyed the neighborhood in the process and now are causing a rift that did NOT need to exist at Lincoln. Webster Square is a MESS and a hazard to students walking to school -- because they fought virtually ANY development in that area, too.

    One hospital has already left. Another is leaving. Change is coming to Lincoln Park, people. You can try to stop Lincoln, but it won't stop the changes. Stable, great schools make for stable, great neighborhoods. Don't forget that in the process.

  • I am confused, do the Lincoln parents have the money to build this school and the people in the neighborhood don't want it as part of the Children's redevelopment?

    If the Lincoln parents do not pay for it where is the money going to come from? CPS does not have the money for this and the state certainly does not........Lincoln Park is not in a TIF. I get the argument about a Lincoln education but who is going to pay for this addition?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    They don't have have the money. The Alderman seems to be holding up the Children's redevelopment project to encourage them to donate the $20 million property and the remaining $30 million is purportedly coming from the Illinois State Bank of Backroom Deals.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have been told by a reliable source that they have also applied for a $50 million backup loan from the Bank of Wishful Thinking.

    I agree with the comment posted below, this whole thing has taken on the stink of the ridiculously absurd.

  • There are many communities in CPS that support their schools and do NOT receive ANY support from CPS. MANY schools need MANY capital improvements - the downtown affluent group has gotten a new Ogden and so much more. On the northwest side schools where there are caring parents working hard to work with their teachers and trying to make sure their kids get a good education in crumbling buildings neglected for years deserve some CPS funding too!!

    This whole discussion is absurd for those of us in schools where there are not even enough books. Shame on all of you!!!! What a disgusting dialogue! Who cares what the stats are beyond the fact that Lincoln has gotten capital money for something in the past ten years and other schools have gotten NOTHING!! They should now go to the back of the line and wait for schools like Taft and Marshall that have the largest capital needs in the district and have been waiting for YEARS to get something - anything, these are school where there are already over 3,000 students attending that are totally being neglected by CPS.

    PLEASE stop this absurd discussion!!!! There should be equity in CPS expenditures and some $$ should go to all schools before any school gets more. Don't any of you understand how ridiculous this discussion is to those of the vast majority of families that continue to get NOTHING from CPS, the city, the state???????

  • I agree with the District299reader above, this discussion has gotten disgusting, petty and personal. However, please note that one side of this absurd debate is advocating for your position, and that is equitable distribution of scarce CPS resources, and the other side is not. The LincolnParent/WALE side of the argument is advocating for Lincoln Elementary to remain at the front of the funding line, above all other CPS schools and demanding half of CPS's annual capital budget of $100 million. The Lincoln Parents for Rational Solutions group is advocating for a moderate, inexpensive solution to a moderate overcrowding problem at Lincoln, and for the CPS capital budget to be dispersed to schools more in need than Lincoln. CPS will make the final decision, and soon. But until then it looks like these two groups will roll in the mud and battle it out.

  • I agree that CPS has better ways to spend its limited capital dollars than an expansion of Lincoln School, but if the argument is lack of money then why is CPS going forward with the Malcolm X College conversion to an Arts High School? One reason why Malcolm X College is getting a completely new facility is because the existing building was built in 1969, the facility is aged, and it has incurred increasing maintenance costs which CPS will now have to take on. In FY 2012 the Chicago City Colleges budget estimated that building operations and maintenance for Malcolm X building for just that year would require $7.0 million, or 21.6% of the college's budget.

    So converting the existing Malcolm X College into a performance Art H.S. will likely cost plenty, but this is Mayor Emanuel's personal project modeled on New York’s LaGuardia High School and it has the backing of Chicago Arts Partnership in Education. But the Partnership is only worth about $858,000 and has nowhere near the resources or fund raising ability to take on a project of this scope.

    So I don't think that accepting the CPS argument of poverty in rules out the Lincoln School expansion proposal, CPS finds the money for projects it wants to fund. Currently CPS has decided to stop funding any new accessibility projects for existing schools and it could fund that too if it chose to do so. I don't support expanding Lincoln School, but I do understand why the community feels it is getting screwed. The reason for this is CPS makes political decisions relating to capital projects generally and the projects are not always rational.

    An example is William C. Goudy School is located in Uptown which had a major 44,600 SF addition added to it only six years ago at the cost of several million because the school had been filled beyond capacity for several years. The school is now listed as being 5% under capacity, but still within the efficiency range.

    In 2000, before the addition was completed the school had 938 students and today it has about 756 students or a decline of 19.4% in about 11 years.
    While the new addition is very nice and the Goudy students have a better educational environment, was this really a priority project given the significant decline in enrollment? CPS has very major problems analyzing its demographics and projects are completed based on which community has complained the longest along with associated clout. Given this history it's not hard to see why the LSC at Lincoln has no embarrassment going forward with its request, after all there are enrollment projections and there are CPS enrollment projections based on a matrix of politics that are far from being completely rational.

    Rod Estvan

  • Move Chicago Schools Forward

  • CPS's School Action Guidelines released October 31 confirm that CPS will focus on the real problem it faces: under-utilization. Nearly half of CPS's 681 schools are under-utilized; 140 (20%) schools are more than 50% under-utilized. Lincoln Elementary School is surrounded by CPS schools that are under-utilized and are drawing large numbers of students from outside the distict to fill seats. One hopes in light of the larger CPS problem, the absurd request by a handful of Lincoln parents to demand a $50 million expansion of Lincoln will finally be put to rest. Those at Lincoln who have long advocated for rational, moderate, and immediate solutions within CPS's current portfolio of under-utilized schools should feel vindicated. Lincoln's LSC should now redirect its focus and work with CPS to put a feasible, realistic solution in place before the December 1 deadline.

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