Closings List Narrows

Happy MLK / Inauguration Day.  Today's education news includes word that the potential unofficial list of closings is down to 193 (but still could include a high school or two), and that CPS wants to open school before Labor Day (which as I recall Vallas and/or Duncan tried and regretted in the past).  Plus updates about King, UNO, LPHS, and the NLRB.  


193 Chicago elementary schools not safe from closing Sun Times: It’s not quite “The List” of schools slated for closing or consolidation by June. But for the first time this year, Chicago Public Schools officials definitively ruled out some of the schools that will be spared from closing or consolidation. The rest at this point number nearly 200 based on three recommendations that CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett approved Friday from her handpicked panel, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis.

CPS may still close high schools; no list till February of schools facing action Catalyst:  Byrd-Bennett also said she is not signing on to other recommendations against shutting down schools with more than 600 students, schools with borderline under-utilization rates and schools that have recently experienced a significant action. Byrd-Bennett said she and her staff will look at each school to see if they are likely to attract more students and to figure out what is the definition of a “significant school action.”

CPS removes high schools, high-performing schools from target listTribune: Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has taken high schools and high-performing schools off the table for potential closings, following the recommendations of a commission set up to study the issue.


CPS wants pre-Labor Day start for school year Sun Times: Chicago public schools will start classes on Aug. 26 this coming school year, ending a long-held practice of a post-Labor Day opening, under a proposal announced Friday.

CPS considering single school calendar Tribune: Chicago Public Schools students would be on the same calendar in the coming year, one that begins Aug. 26 — at least a week before most students now start school — and ends June 10, under a proposal the Board of Education will vote on Wednesday.
CPS Introduces New District-Wide Schedule, As Classes Will Start in August DNAI: District announces public meetings on school closings starting later this month.


CPS Parents File Formal State Complaint Against UNO Charter Schools DNAI: Reformers asked the state inspector general to probe the schools' finances.

Parents Say King Principal Made Sexually Explicit Comments DNAI: Parents concerned an emphasis on discipline is coming at the expense of respect at King College Prep.

A victory for charter freedom Tribune (editorial): The decision means that the NLRB has recognized that charters are special, and their teachers are not constricted by the same rules as, say, traditional Chicago Public Schools teachers are.
Principal Evaluations: Institute Total Test Prep…Or Else CPS Chatter: The new principal evaluation is troubling.  It sets up a revolving door for principals and forces principals to push constant test prep.  It also really subjects principals to very punitive and very poor math.

New Reading Standards Aim To Prep Kids For College — But At What Cost?NPR: Almost the entire country has signed onto the Common Core Standards Initiative. The standards incorporate more nonfiction texts across all subjects to improve reading scores. But some fear the push for nonfiction reading could lead students away from passionate engagement with literature.

Lincoln Park Students Eager to Meet "The Man" NBC Chicago:Their trip has included visits to the Smithsonian, the Newseum and historic sites in Arlington, along with meetings with Quigley and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They note proudly they are the only Chicago public elementary school attending the ...


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  • According to CPS data, 17 high schools are more than 50% underutilized and have hefty price tags for maintenance and repair, including 7 with price tags of more than $30 million for upkeep. This information was in a part of the CPS document that I saw on New Year's Day, that also listed over 110 elementary schools on it under the heading of "School Actions for the 2013-2014 School Year" (CPS School Action Hit List). This was a stapled 3 page report that mention the Commission on School Utilization on the 1st page. This was not the CPS document that has 330 underutilized schools on it. CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett wrote that she will take action in the event that (1) a high school poses a life/safety threat to students and staff due to its dilapidated state and (2) we cannot justify the costs associated with making it a safe environment (remember Tim Cawley's remark about not spending CPS money to repair some schools). CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett also wrote that there may also be instances where a school's population is to small that it is unable to provide a robust learning environment for students. The last few years CPS has been closing small high schools that share the same building and consolidating them into one high school (i.e.- Bowen, Orr, South Shore). All small high school campuses should be on the look-out (i.e.- Austin, DuSable and Little Village). CEO Barbara Byd-Bennett wrote that in both of these rare cases, we (CPS) reserve the right to move those students into a building that provides a safe environment conducive to learning. What is CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett really saying? This means 7 high schools could be phased-out and then closed, if CPS cannot justify the cost of running them, and several high schools with small school populations could be consolidated or co-locations. Several CPS high schools are still at risk along with over 110 CPS elementary schools with some type of school actions for the 2013-2014 school year.

  • This is how you know Byrd-Bennett isn't serious about student safety. Any building that is unsafe to students or staff should be closed YESTERDAY. Furthermore, if she has not yet investigated facility safety months ago, then any school closing based on such criteria is obviously political and not student-centered.

  • The work has been done for months. It's all politics at this point. What schools will be easy to close. Which will cause an uproar. Who are the aldermen that will fight. What community groups have clout. And so on and so forth. CPS is only waiting because they're trying to get as far away from the strike as possible. But make no mistake, the work is done, the consultants have gone home and any changes are political. It's a waiting game for the rest of us.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Dear district299reader, I agree!

  • Isn't the First Lady's school on that Sun Times list?

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    Yes, the First Lady's elementary school is on the list.

  • I have been working with a list of about 180 schools that Catalyst believed were potential candidtates for closure. Close to 33% of these schools housed cluster sites for more disabled students often from out of the elementary school's intake area.

    This is going to be a very big problem finding space for self contained cluster site classrooms in consolidated schools. This will have to be very complex analysis relating to space and closures or CPS could be in the middle of a mess come this spring. I really don't need any more cases and neither do the lawyers I work with.

    Rod Estvan

  • No one will want SPED until the reporting is FIXED!!!

    I immediately thought of you and the SPED students at our school when the principal evaluations were announced. Our principal has fought to keep the SPED students in our building (even though they take up a LOT of space and we are over crowded) because their heart goes out to them and their families. However, if their scores are kept in with the general population when they are reported as part of the principal's evaluation going forward - what incentive will they have to keep the SPED in our over crowded school? NONE! Keep SPED students and loose your job? The new principal evaluation will force principals to do whatever they can to have SPED students (especially those that are severe and profound) removed from their schools ASAP! We did an internal analysis and without SPED our scores are VERY different than what is reported ever since the SPED scores were included in the school scores.

    Unless the total school scores used for evaluations have SPED and bi-lingual students' scored removed as they once were - good luck in finding a principal that will accept them! Hopefully they will set up more schools like Beard where the SPED scores will not be punitive to the school's principal.

    I predict a LOT of SPED families will be impacted unless CPS fixes this metric ASAP! Rod, let your lawyers know that there should be PLENTY of new business for them soon!

  • Access Living has made its position known on how we believe schools should be held accountable for the academic growth of students with disabilities. We are opposed to how CPS is doing it by just adding scores into the school wide pot.

    Here is what we wrote on this issue two years ago:

    "We could find no clear evidence based on the available research that holding individual teachers and principals accountable for the academic growth of students with disabilities through consideration of student growth as a significant factor in the rating of teachers and principals performance will lead to measureable improvement in the academic outcomes for these students. We also found no evidence that holding individual teachers and principals accountable for the academic growth of students with disabilities through consideration of student growth in the evaluation system would not lead to measureable improvement in these students academic outcomes. Simply put, this effort may be a crapshoot and poor policy making."

    We went on to state:

    "In August 2008, Ohio began implementing a program that incorporates a value-added model. Ohio’s accountability system employs multiple measures, whereby schools are assigned ratings on the basis of a set of indicators. Instead of simply comparing a student’s gain with the average gain, the model develops a customized prediction of each student’s progress on the basis of his or her own academic record, as well as that of other students over multiple years, with statewide test performance serving as an anchor. The value-added improvement is the difference between a student’s score in a given subject and the score predicted by the model."

    "Ultimately, Illinois special education regulations need to be revised. In order to promote individuality consistent with IDEA, IEP teams need to individually establish a prediction or estimation of the expected gain of students with disabilities. This needs to be documented in a very specific manner for the academic areas for all students who will be tested in using the standard assessment with appropriate modifications and accommodations when necessary. Since the vast majority of Illinois students with disabilities are academically testing well below grade level, using this prediction of expected gain will do almost nothing to improve the skills of these students relative to standards. But it does create a base line and teachers should be held accountable for maintaining this base line. Teachers should also be given credit for pushing these students beyond this base line towards becoming proficient."

    Our recommendations to the State were rejected and it was also provided to CPS which did not act on it. We suspect that having a detailed measurement system for each student that requires schools to make realistic predictions of expected growth created terror in the minds of some. It would make it far eaiser to litigate special educaiton cases if it could be shown that school failed repeatedly to reach academic growth markers.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    If I had a dime for every flawed IEP that has crossed my desk over the past twenty years...i agree that IEP teams need to individually establish a prediction or estimation... and must be knowledgeable of MAP and common core demands. If I read one more goal that starts... "With 80% accuracy"...the majority I have worked with are simply cookie -cutter.

  • In reply to urbanteach:

    I agree with you regarding the IEP quality in CPS. The teachers ask for direction on how to write an IEP but get little or no direction. The few (4 in 22 years) inservices I had on IEP writing given by central office staff were embarrassing. The state has had a free online IEP for years but CPS chose a cumbersome format rife with redundancies.

    When we receive transfer ins from the suburbs we are always told to redo the IEP even if it was done last week. What a time waster.
    The Corey H. monitors passed a school whose IEPs universally state, "grade on attitude" What!!!! Then they transfer into our school and we do not grade on attitude! BTW this school and my school share the same SSA who nitpicks our IEPs but ignores this glaring illegality at the other school. Also, when they transfer in they have been in sped fro 5-6 years with NO GROWTH yet services have not been increased. Where is the consistency? Where is the training?

    Why are special education teachers expected to use up their prep time to conduct IEP meetings, conduct observations for initials, and test students for RtI? Where is their planning time?

    anniesullivan I keep hoping for change but.....

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are there any answers to these questions? Help!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Need to know how to write a good IEP? Read these:

    Better IEPs How to Develop Legally Correct and Educationally Useful Programs [Paperback] / Barbara D. Bateman (Author), Mary Anne Linden (Author), Joan Donovan (Editor), Tom Kinney (Editor)

    Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives [Paperback] / Barbara D. Bateman (Author), Cynthia M. Herr (Author)

    Might I venture to say that NONE of the IEPs I've seen through CPS have been anywhere even near measurable or useful?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    This one is a good "starter":

    From Gobbledygook to Clearly Written Annual IEP Goals (Teaching Staff) [Perfect Paperback] / Barbara Bateman (Author)

  • Has anyone looked into the building costs for charter schools? It appears that CPS is spending a great deal of money to build new buildings and to rent facilities for charter schools. Many charter schools are paying the archdioceses to rent and renovate old Catholic School building. In essence, they are supporting the local churches by improving, maintaining and renting their unused school buildings. Why doesn't CPS use their own underutilized buildings?

    Are there any records of how much schools like UNO pay to rent their facilities? The former St. Scholastica's on Ridge Ave is an enormous campus (acres) that houses the mother home for the Benedictine order of nuns. How much does Uno pay to rent that compound? In Avondale, Aspira is using state funds to build a new facility when nearby Brentano and Darwin are both slated to close. Why wouldn't CPS use one of those buildings rather than spend money to build a new building? Both building are fully functional. For a fraction of the cost of a new building, one would think they could be updated.

    Something is not right. How can CPS rent all these facilities and have plans to renovate and build new facilities when they are crying about how they have more buildings than they can afford? The standard answer is that the money is coming from grants and outside sources. Tax exempt donations for public education should be used on the existing public buildings, not to fix up private buildings.

    I would like to see some factual information and media coverage regarding charter school building costs and who gets the money.

  • Is there anyone in CPS or on the BOE who cares what happens to sped students? Apparently Emanuel and his pals Alexrod, who you'd think would get it, and Duncan do not.

  • if cps does not stop holding special ed student test scores-attendance against the schools, no more special ed students will be accepted.
    plain + simple = survival

  • Yes, unfortunately IEPs are a big time waster in CPS: they are redundant, cumbersome, with only drop down features for some categories. It takes hours to write one student's IEP. There are plenty of teachers throughout the district whose caseloads are in the twenty plus category.
    And don't forget, this year, there are no subs. So special educations teachers are now also substitute teachers. Those wonderful discretionary funds that principals have for a LSD are used for god knows what, so there are no lunchroom monitors or recess monitors in some schools. So guess who gets to do that also. Yes, and preps are used for everything, but planning. Try writing reasonable or attainable goals for that many students. And let's not forget, regardless of how much below level theses students are, CPS still tests them like their peers. Yes, special education teachers are specialized to do everything else but teach their students. It's just one big joke.

  • Well said...."parf til ya barf" said the SSA again...

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