Ald. Sposato Relents On UNO Charter

Today’s big news is that Ald. Sposato has relented and Galewood will get a new UNO charter school, plus a bunch of stuff you already know – Vallas to Bridgeport, LaSalle is saved, etc.  (WBEZ does detail the contents of the original LaSalle options memo, and – finally? – links to it so you can read it yourself, which is great.)

Sposato Now Backs UNO School In Ward CNC:  Facing the embarrassing prospect of seeing a new charter school approved for his ward without his blessing, freshman Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36th Ward) said Wednesday that he had decided to back the project after all.

Sposato relents on NW Side charter school Tribune:  A freshman Northwest Side alderman on Wednesday said he has decided to support plans by a prominent Latino organization that wants to build a charter school in his ward.

CPS backs away from magnet school overhaul WBEZ:  An internal CPS document obtained by WBEZ lists five possibilities to relieve overcrowding at Lincoln. The document discounts four of the five as “infeasible,” “disruptive,” “too costly” or “time-consuming.”  Phasing out LaSalle as a magnet was “recommended.”

Former CPS chief Paul Vallas to head Bridgeport, Conn. schools Sun Times:  Paul Vallas, who rose to prominence in Chicago as head of the Chicago Public Schools after then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of the struggling system, will soon be serving a different Bridgeport — Bridgeport, Conn.

Former Chicago schools CEO Paul Vallas to lead Bridgeport, Conn schools WBEZ:  He will receive the same $229,000 annual salary as his predecessor, John Ramos, whose contract was terminated by the board appointed under a state takeover of the district. That board approved Vallas’ appointment Tuesday.

Suburban Poverty WTTW:  Suburban poverty has exploded over the last 10 years. Census data now shows there are more poor people in the suburbs in the Chicago metropolitan area than in the city. Elizabeth Brackett looks at what that means for the newly poor, and for the public and private agencies trying to meet their rising needs.

Santa’s ready with lots of gifts for good — and bad — Chicago pols Crain’s: A golden apple goes to new Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. With some unintended help from the Chicago Teachers Union, Mr. Brizard seems to generally be on the right path.


Leave a comment
  • The internal CPS document that Linda Lutton from WBEZ radio revealed has an enormous about of information related to Lincoln Elementary school, LaSalle, and a new large fiscal review of school based funding that is already underway at CPS. While the document does not clearly say this I believe CPS will be moving to what was called Equitable Student Funding (ESF) in the Rochester City School District. This is a complex issue that will in the next CPS budget cycle become a big issue. Based on this model there could be in Chicago next year different funding ratios for different schools based on the types of students in these schools.

    Here is how ESF was presented in Rochester to justify it: "Students are our top priority. Through ESF, funding is assigned to each student based on need. The focus is on making sure EVERY child receives the resources needed to succeed. The objective remains of supporting our strategic goals for the academic achievement of our students." Unfortunately, ESF may also be the harbinger of lower traditional school funding if the Rochester model is implemented in Chicago in my opinion. The key indicator in the document Ms Lutton has provided that CPS is going the ESF route is this sentence: "Magnet school resources currently allocated to LaSalle will be subject to review as part of the district’s broader funding equality evaluation."

    The document also reveals much interesting data about Lincoln school, in particular that technically based on CPS metrics Lincoln School is not overcrowded. The document does not state what the the design capacity of the school is, but rather states its "ideal enrollment is 669. Lincoln’s enrollment efficiency range is 535 – 803." As I have stated before in posts on the Catalyst site, when I attended Lincoln during the Baby boom we had more than 800 students and we had at some grade levels more than two home rooms per grade level.

    Currently the document claims that there are 809 students in the school of which 12% or 97 students are not from the intake area. This means that the heart of the problem of supposed overcrowding at Lincoln School are citywide programs, and without these students the school is easily within what is called its "efficiency range."

    Moreover, this document indicates that the increased enrollment of Lincoln School intake area students was driven by new housing approved by the City of Chicago. It is not clear what additional housing the document is discussing, but it clearly wasn't low income housing that is for sure and the school district had a legal right to require that the developers of addition units pay an impact fee to CPS in offset any costs to the district, which I suspect given the corruption in the permit approval process was never done or even considered.

    The racial data discussed in the document simply speaks for itself and needs to be read by all. But what is missing for the document? What is missing in the analysis is the impact removing magnet status from LaSalle would have on the percentage of low income students who could have access to that school. Currently only 22.1% of LaSalle students are low income as compared to the district average of 86% of students. I would suggest that this percentage of low income children regardless of race would decline if the school loses magnet status and that impact might be even greater than the potential race impact.

    Linda Lutton from WBEZ gets big kudos from me for revealing this document to the public.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    BIG KUDOS to Linda Lutton! I'll even re-up my WBEZ membership if we keep seeing this kind of information. Will still need Rod Estvan's eagle eyes, however, to get the most out of it. Wonder what ESF would really mean for students with disabilities (with IEPs and without).

  • Unfortunately, CPS does not keep the developer money they receive to help the school affected by the developer. When the highrises were built on the east side in Ogden’s area, the developer was required to set aside land and money for a new school. About 7 years ago Ogden parents got together because of overcrowding and asked CPS to use it. We were told that the money had already been spent on other schools, and there were no plans to do anything for Ogden. CPS waited till the problem was extreme then had to bus 2 or 3 grades away for 2 years, then bus everyone for 2 years for the rebuild, and is still busing 2 grades away because of overcrowding. The buses have not worked well, especially in bad weather and Monday mornings, and students are missing class time waiting at the neighborhood school for the bus to the other school.
    Speaking as a parent without a car, as many in Lincoln Park and downtown are, it would be best if all kids in a family go to the same neighborhood school. Picking one up in K at one building and another student in another building is not easy. If they have to be bused, there can be a long wait with one student waiting for the other to arrive.

  • Sposato did not want dead fish from Ra-ham-bo

  • Rod,

    You're missing some facts.

    The roughly 100 out-of-area Lincoln students are virtually all in the upper grades and will soon graduate. In the primary grades, where there are FOUR 1st grade classrooms and FOUR 2nd grade classrooms, 98% of those students are in-area. The out-of-area students were enrolled 6 years ago when Lincoln was not overcrowded nor near overcrowded. Lincoln's problem is not its "citywide programs", which in fact is not a citywide program but rather an International Gifted program consisting mostly of neighborhood students. The heart of Lincoln's problem is its much larger-than-sustainable early grades bubble. In short, Lincoln's capacity cannot sustain the increased demand from neighborhood parents who are increasingly choosing their neighborhood public school over all other options: magnet, gifted and private schools.

    Also, the document does not say that Lincoln's existing overcrowding problems relate to new housing. The document only refers to the fact that new/future housing units at Children's Memorial and Lincoln Park hospital will only exacerbate an already unsustainable overcrowding problem.

    Nobody is concealing the likely impact the proposed boundary at LaSalle would have on LaSalle's future low-income population (which is small now and would decrease to whatever Lincoln's rate is) and nobody is concealing the likely impact the proposed boundary would have on LaSalle's racial-ethnic makeup (it would go from roughy 1/3rd-1/3rd-1/3rd now to 68% non-minority 8 years hence, virtually identical to Lincoln). Obviously not ideal.

    There are no easy answers to the situation there, only difficult trade-off's.

  • In reply to PezChicago:

    The document does indicate that the out of area students are in the upper grades. Your post indicates that these students will be graduating but it does not indicate CPS is phasing out the international program. Let me be clear in the 1960s, before Lincoln School's intake area was expanded in the late 1970s the school had a slightly larger student population than it does currently with a geographically smaller intake area.

    The reason CPS could place the international program, which at one point was if I recall correctly a program formally under the authority of the French ministry of Education, at the school was because there was room. Neither your post nor the document discusses the Ecole Franco-Américaine deChicago (EFAC) program at Lincoln School.( A governing board, comprised of volunteer parents, is elected every two years for this program. The EFAC director, representatives of the French Consulate and the two American schools attend monthly Board meetings. The board sets the budget, general objectives and oversees the running of the program.

    This program enrolled students from k-5 at Lincoln school and even had its own pre-registration form up to one year ago. I know of several French speaking families whose children were admitted to this program in kindergarten and as far as I know French nationals are still being admitted to the program. CPS originally received a payment from the French government for these French national students and at least for a period of time teachers were employees of the French Ministry of Education when the program was created, but I do not know if that is still being done.

    My post did not state that non-area students created the enrollment issues at Lincoln School, it stated correctly that without these citywide students the school based on the CPS internal documents would have zero basis for claiming to be overcrowded. Clearly if more housing is developed at Children's Memorial and Lincoln Park hospital then impact fees should go to expanding Lincoln School.

    We should also note that Lincoln School’s low-income rate is only 14% when the city’s rate is 86%, even Sauganash and Ogden schools have a higher percentage of low-income children, I think only and Norwood Park has smaller percentages of low-income children in a non-gifted elementary school. If there is a school with even fewer low-income children then I am sure someone on this blog will let us know. The CPS document did not discuss the low income issue at all, possibly because the Alderman's questions did not cover it, but it is important.

    In saying this I am not suggesting that CPS close down Ecole Franco-Américaine deChicago, but I am suggesting that I was correct in stating that CPS as a school district the original proposed closing down one citywide program at LaSalle but allowing another at Lincoln to continue was a bad decision and an unfair one to the families that apply to LaSalle every year. I also think system wide there is something not right about the relatively small percentage of low income children admitted to magnet schools on the north side. But that is a complex issue that deserves its own discussion.

    Rod Estvan

  • there's a new guidance out from CPS about full day

    apparently every school is supposed to have a full day committee?

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    The high schools got this about a month ago.

    How insulting that CPS brass are calling it "Full Day"--as if we have been getting by all these years working less than a full day.

    May they all get a lump of coal in their stockings this weekend.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    When have they not been insulting?
    This should not be an epiphany!

  • The overarching point here is that neither of Lincoln's two programs--the Intl Gifted nor the French program--are accommodated in dedicated classrooms. Both of those programs "float". This is why neither program relate to Lincoln's current nor projected overcrowding.

  • In reply to PezChicago:

    Clearly they have not floated enough to offset the increased in area enrollment that is being discussed. We will have to agree to disagree about that issue. In relation to the Ecole Franco-Américaine deChicago (EFAC) program other nationalities have similar programs such as the Chicago Futabakai Japanese School / Day School in Arlington Heights or the German School in Chicago proper. But as far as I know EFAC is the only one of these nationally approved programs located in a public school based on a formal agreement with a foreign Ministry of Education.

    In fact having spent time in several foreign nations I do not recall any American School ever being located within a publicly funded school within those nations. The Ecole Franco-Américaine deChicago seems very unique in that regard.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I believe the Efac students come an hour early for French lessons and then go to class with the rest of the school. Enrollees used to be citywide, but are now only in district. There are about 50-60 out-of-district students in Lincoln's 6th, 7th and 8th grade IG program, which contributes to the school's size, but not to the long term overcrowding problem.

    The school's concern is the current and projected increase of neighborhood students, and more each year thereafter, based on already swelling classrooms in the lower grades, which will age up progressively. 2014-15 projection is 917 students, 98% in-district (not including the 50-60 IG kids). Plus possible impact of 800 housing units in planned development at the former Children's Memorial site. Peeling off Efac and/or IG would have no long-term impact on the overcrowding at Lincoln.

    Bell has programs which serve even more out of district children, and is a good model for a facility that after performing well in a neighborhood experiencing gentrification and growth can scale up and is being improved after long time negotiations. Kudos to them.

    What's fascinating, as always, is CPS process. De-magnetizing LaSalle was a silly idea, raising even more Office of Civil Rights red flags than the already widening gap of socioeconomic and racial diversity at popular north side magnet schools located in affluent communities (after CPS initiated and successfully overturned the consent decree 2 years ago).

    It's not surprising that a chief administrative officer who resides and sends his child to school in Winnetka... who is not grounded in the Chicago community...who merely has a bachelors degree in economics and no substantive experience in public education... would think a solution like this ideal. From turnarounds and closings to not letting elementary principals allow any of their teacher's children to enroll to monkeying with two stable schools, get ready for more policy that's miles away from the public affected down the pike.

    Net result is most likely CPS thinks their biggest problem is information leaks, not poor decision-making. Ah, the hubris.

    Look for heads to roll and the c-suite to circle the wagons even tighter.

  • In reply to jildo:

    Oh, snap.

  • Rod you are one of the most informed . It is always refreshing to hear your take on the issues.

  • A lot of thanks to the article author. This is a great story.
    Webmaster of Viewsonic VX 2450

Leave a comment