SB 620: Passed both houses!

Great to see those words next to this bill, the Chicago school facilities bill which so many in the community have fought for for at least four years. Special thanks to Reps. Cynthia Soto and Iris Martinez, who were the primary sponsors and champions, and to the hard-working members of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force including Cecile Carroll (Blocks Together), Andrea Lee (Grand Boulevard Federation), Valencia Rias (Designs for Change) and Rene Heybach (Chicago Coalition for the Homeless).

You’ll have to read House Amendment 3 to see the final changes. The law now includes requirements for:

  • CPS-developed standards for space utilization and “facilities performance” (i.e. environmental safety, heat/cool, plumbing).
  • A CPS-developed Educational Facilities Master Plan.
  • A CPS developed Capital Improvement Plan.
  • A transparent capital financial plan.
  • A transition plan for students affected by major school facilities changes.
  • More accessible hearings and public meetings including a requirement for a 30-day notice for hearings (CPS typically gives less than a week now).
  • Standards for hearing officers (maybe Fred “Close ‘Em Down” Bates won’t run 95% of the hearings anymore?).
  • A permanent representative task force that will review CPS compliance with this law at least once a year.

This new law won’t solve all of our problems but it will provide us with new tools to hold CPS accountable and to force better decisions, which will ultimately improve education in Chicago for the many, not just the few.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.