Journos Talks Closings

Journos Talks Closings

What I learned watching Mark Brown and Kate Grossman talk on CANTV about CPS closings: Byrd-Bennet's attempt to visit all the receiving schools, inaccurate accounts of Emanuel saying negotiations were over, the suspicious spread of closings among different Aldermen, recurring questions about the all now/moratorium setup that CPS proposed and now must keep to.  What about you?  See video below.

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  • CPS is closing approximately 1/4 of its schools. CPS is part of the Gates District Charter compact, which requires that participating districts close "the bottom" 25% of all schools and prioritize giving buildings to charters. CPS, to the best of my knowledge, has only collected about $100k of this money. They pulled themselves out of the running to receive up to $4.2 million when Barbara Byrd Bennett assumed her post. They are still eligible to compete for up to $20 million for capital funds for charters. Microsoft just got a contract for cloud computing from CPS, which will save over $300,000 per year (according to a Tribune article). The article didn't indicate how much the contract award was. It would have to be substantial in order to generate estimated savings of $300k. What is CPS really getting from Microsoft? We have yet to receive more than $100k. At most CPS will get $20 million, about 1/3-1/2 of the cost of one school. Massive upheaval of African American communities for less than it costs to construct 1 school???

  • This massive school closing strategy is consistent with the Mayor's policy of leaving communities like North Lawndale to die on the vine. The mayor spent $250K on an economic development plan for the city that doesn't drill down to the community level, let alone begin to address the needs of communities like North Lawndale. He spent $250K on an arts and cultural plan for the city, bringing his dog and pony show to communities. When the plan was completed, there were no strategies to drill down to the community level. The Mayor has developed an anti-violence initiative for North Lawndale without spending one dime of additional resources and not one strategy to address crime prevention or violence. At best, he will shift resources from some delegate agencies and give them to other agencies in the community. The Mayor is disinvesting in our schools to he tune of $189,000,000 in capital; and approximately $20 million per annum in school operating costs (for North Lawndale), while attempting to raise $50,000 for a citywide basketball program for our youth. The mayor has refused to include North Lawndale as a targeted community to invest funds for public health programs, in spite of the fact that we're under-served. The Mayor refused to work with the community to save a former church that once served as an historic Jewish synagogue and historically significant African American Baptist church. The community proposed that the City redevelop the property as a cultural center that would honor the history of the community, the nexus between the Jewish and African American cultures in the Lawndale community, and to serve as an anchor for future cultural and economic development along Douglas Boulevard. In spite of the fact that every inch of North Lawndale is in a TIF, he did not include a representative from our community on his panel for so called TIF reform. In spite of the fact that North Lawndale is ground zero for school closings and other actions, he has not appointed anyone from our community to be on the school board. The only time the Mayor shows up in the community is for photo-ops, and not to have real conversations with real people, on the ground, up close and personal. We really need a Mayor who will address the concerns of all people, and not just the wealthy and well-connected people who live in certain wards of the city.

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