There Goes Recess!?

There Goes Recess!?

Today's news roundup includes a hodge-podge (hodgepodge?) of items including the pressures on schools to cut recess (again), the CO's effort to get a share of cellphone tower cash, some parents angry about a principal "shaming" their kids, and a TFA rebellion event on Sunday.

Recess time headed for a rocky road Catalyst: Lack of money to hire staff to supervise children was a problem, one that is likely to worsen given the budget cuts already reported by some schools.  And a survey of parents from 20 schools by the group POWER-PAC found that schools didn’t always view recess as a requirement.

CPS cuts into schools’ cellphone tower cash deals Sun Times: It was a way for a number of cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools to generate a little extra income on their own: leasing roof space to cellular phone companies looking for a place to erect their towers.

Bankrupt in Philadelphia: Could This Happen to Your School District? TakePart: Conner also points out that what is happening in Philadelphia has already occurred in Chicago. “It is no coincidence that the Philadelphia School District is facing a plight similar to that of theChicago public schools, with mass school closing.

Emanuel's infrastructure trust off to slow start Chicago Tribune: One aspect of that initiative has raised questions about the agency's role because it is seeking private financing for construction projects that have already been completed and paid for byChicago Public Schools.

New principals at Rich Central, Rich South Southtown Star: The Rich Township High School District 227 Board has promoted from within and hired fromChicago Public Schools to fill two vacant principal positions for next year. Vanessa Woods began as principal at Rich Central High School on July 1.

Pension reform would ease the Chicago school financial crisis  Chicago Tribune: A three-year break that allowed Chicago Public Schools to skip pension contributions is ending. CPS had to pay $196 million into the teacher's pension fund in the fiscal year that ended June 30. This year, CPS' contribution rises to $612 million.

Active Trans Helps Chicago Public Schools Set Up 25 Safe Routes Programs Streetsblog Chicago:  I recently sat down with Genaro Escarzaga, the Active Transportation Alliance's Safe Routes to School coordinator, to discuss the work he's doing to help launch Safe Routes programs in twenty-five Chicago public schools.

Daniel O'Neil and his Smart Chicago Collaborative finds real people to test the city's best civic apps Tribune: "The big picture is to get residents engaged in the civic technology process — because currently they're not," O'Neil said immediately after a recent test of Tom Kompare's almost-finished app,, at a public library in Uptown.

CPS parents upset that principal shamed girls, said shorts too short Sun Times: Two students read a letter calling for their principal to get a chance to change, echoing the forgiving attitudes of a few others, but several parents called on her to resign...

Teach For America's Civil War The American Prospect: Despite the endless outcry, no one has ever staged a coordinated, national effort to overhaul, or put the brakes on, TFA—let alone anyone from within the TFA rank-and-file. On July 14, in a summit at the annual Free Minds/Free People education conference in Chicago, a group of alumni and corps members will be the first to do so.


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  • From

    "One aspect of that initiative has raised questions about the agency's role because it is seeking private financing for construction projects that have already been completed and paid for by Chicago Public Schools. The agency's delay in obtaining that financing has prompted finger-pointing between the trust and CPS, which by now had expected to receive nearly $40 million from the trust that has yet to materialize."

    I'm not sure I understand this - is the Tribune saying that CPS went ahead with projects that the Trust promised to fund without the financing actually being in place?


    "CPS spokesman David Miranda said the district expects to recoup its lighting investment in six years through electricity savings."

    That's in CPS years. In human years, that means about 10 years - if at all.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    IF the lighting CPS replaced works. Does anyone really check that the job was done completely and correctly. Word on street is that new lighting does not work and at one school new lights went in where it will never be used. How is that for cost effectiveness? As these donors find out how 125 is a sieve for $$$ they will stop giving it.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    They're not donors, as far as I understand it. They essentially pay for cost savings technology and are then paid back through savings in the electric bill. Essentially it's a way for schools to buy cost saving technology without spending the money up front.
    Of course if the lights don't work, or don't provide the projected energy savings, that's a problem.
    The CPS power bill is enormous, and the payback of investing in efficient technology is apparently good too. The problem the trust tries to solve is how to pay for that technology.
    I don't know why this approach is preferable to more traditional borrowing. But there's nothing strange in CPS seeking funding for completed projects. They want the cash back.

  • In reply to Donn:

    In addition, investing in a completed project is much less risky for the investor since the projected was actually completed for a known amount and the actual on-going cost savings can already be verified. Much better than vesting in something which is un-built or executed

    What the investor is "buying" is participation in the future cost savings - they are paid annual share of the electricity cost savings. If that rate-of-return is safe, predictable and at a competitive rate it could be a good deal. I wouldn't be surprised if investors are asking for guarantees from the City and the City is balking at that.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    The drop in electrical rates may be the real reason this has stalled. I doubt they expected 6 cents/kwh when they started this project.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yes, they did go ahead with the project without having the funding from the agency. Not very fiscally responsible when you take into consideration the huge deficit the board is facing. As an itinerant teacher, I have gone into several schools that have the new lighting in place. There have been issues with the lights not functioning properly, or not functioning at all in many of the schools in which I provide service.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Our new lights at our school do not work properly either. the contractor has been out twice to 're-do' it and it still does not work. Some of the new lights are already burnt out.

  • "CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll admits it would be impossible to find evidence of the reductions in the official budget book. “It is not the way it works,” she says."
    What she really meant to say is “I have no idea how the budget works and all the ways we are playing with taxpayer money, so stop asking me. I am incapable of giving an honest, truthful answer, so why bother? " .
    Just so she knows she's not fooling anyone.

  • I now understand why Wentworth Elementary got all new lights ... despite it having been announced that Wentworth was moving into the Altgeld building and that Wentworth would be abandoned. That's how little oversight there is in CPS ... and no accountability. A system that is strapped for cash is putting new lighting in a soon to be abandoned building. Meanwhile the kids do without. Heads should roll.

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