Another important facilities update from Jackie Leavy

Dear Supporters of Great Public Schools for ALL STUDENTS:  Jackie L here, with some important updates and developments:


If you’re skeptical of CPS’ “facts,” you’ve just been vindicated by the data-driven reporting of Chicago’s Public Radio journalists!  WBEZ’s “TRUTH SQUAD” reported on December 11th that:

“Chicago school officials and the head of an independent Commission on School Utilizationhave said enrollment problems are caused by a loss of 145,000 kids in the city between 2000 and 2010, an 18 percent decline. But actual declines in Chicago Public Schools enrollment have not been anywhere near that severe.

Overall enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has declined 6 percent in the last 14 years, a loss of 28,289 students. In that time, CPS has opened more than 120 new schools, many of them charters, shifting enrollment patterns.  The percentage of students attending traditional schools has dropped 17 percent, while the percentage in charter schools (most housed in non-CPS buildings) has increased. School officials say they have not analyzed whether opening new schools has exacerbated the number of empty desks in Chicago. The district has said it wants to open at least 17 more new schools this fall.”

Read the entire story here with details of enrollment changes over time, and an analysis of plans to add new charter schools.  THIS IS A “MUST READ”!  Post it, “Tweet” it, “forward” the story, share it with your neighbors, LSC, and elected officials!

AND . . . If you haven’t seen it yet, check out CPS’ Utilization Report here.


A growing number of concerned parents, educators, LSC members and even Aldermen are starting to show up at these sessions, and that the public’s input has been overwhelmingly AGAINST SCHOOL CLOSINGS, and IN SUPPORT OF STRONGER NEIGHBORHOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The Commission cut off public testimony after little more than an hour at the Dec. 10th meeting. Do you suppose Frank Clark and Co. didn’t like what they were hearing?  Is this what “community input” looks like? CPS has announced 2 more sessions:

FRIDAY NIGHT, DEC. 14th:   7:00 – 9:00 PM, Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose
SATURDAY, DEC. 15th:         1:00 – 3:00 PM, Mt. Vernon Baptist CHurch, 2262 W. Jackson Blvd

WHAS’ UP??  Utilization Commission Chair Frank Clark and CPS’ Barbara Byrd Bennett can’t seem to get their stories straight:  Clark tells the press he isn’t planning to come up with a specific “hit list,” while BBB says, “oh yeah, he better!”   In effect, it looks like the Mayor and BBB want the Commission members to put their names on the “Death Warrants” for every school CPS wants to close. Maybe Frank didn’t know that’s what he was signing up for . . . Check out the story in Catalyst Chicago.

General Assembly Task Force Meets THURSDAY, DEC. 13th, 9:30 AM
Bilandic State Office Bldg, 160 N. LaSalle, RM N-505 (5th Floor)

CEFTF Co-Chair State Rep. Cynthia Soto will lay out a schedule of monthly meetings for 2013 to ensure that the Task Force gets widespread public input and continues to provide a forum for the public’s voices to be heard.

Whatever the Utiization Commission thinks it’s doing, the CEFTF and the public know that THE ISSUES FACING THE FUTURE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE MUCH BROADER than CPS’ cooked-up “body counts,” and that GENUINE PUBLIC INPUT and REAL INVESTMENT in our neighborhood public schools will move our students and schools forward.

Most public school stakeholders believe that CPS’ attempts to close schools BEFORE creating a meaningful, community-driven 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan doesn’t make any sense. The majority of Task Force members opposed the March 31st 2013 announcement of School Actions, and have vowed not to be deterred from seeking YOUR REACTION and INPUT on CPS’ school closings, alternatives to closings, your plans for the future of YOUR schools, and what reforms you believe are needed to hold CPS accountable.

At Thursday’s CEFTF meeting, the Task Force will hear from RAISE YOUR HAND about its research on Class Size which helps to put CPS’ flawed data on “under-utilization” in a real-world perspective; and from LSCs already mobilizing to plan for their schools’ futures.

The CEFTF meeting calendar for 2013 should be forthcoming soon.  Stay tuned.

For more on the CEFTF, go to:


Despite the anger and frustration folks justifiably feel about CPS getting away with putting off its School Closings announcement, there is a “silver lining”:  TIME TO PLAN, ORGANIZE, and MOBILIZE!

Parent activists, LSCs and educators are doing just that:  Putting together an authentic community vision for the future of their schools; doing “Walk Throughs” of their schools – UNVEILING SERIOUS FLAWS in CPS’ utilization rankings!  – and taking stock of what their schools need to improve and stabilize in the coming years. MAKE A PLAN NOW, don’t let CPS determine your school’s fate!

HOW DO YOU START?  CHECK OUT THIS SURVEY TOOL DEVELOPED BY BLOCKS TOGETHER – TO HELP YOUR SCHOOL COMMUNITY PUSH BACK AGAINST CPS AND START PLANNING FOR YOUR SCHOOL’S FUTURE!  Please Note: This is a “working draft” and Blocks Together encourages each of you to share this, and adapt or alter this tool as you see fit to meet your local organizing efforts. Be sure to check out the follow-up Action Steps on P. 3 about how to utilize (no pun intended) your results to save and improve your school!

What many folks don’t realize is that while the School Actions announcement deadline was changed to March 31st, 2013 the state reform law was not entirely “gutted.” Public Act 97-0474 (formerly SB 630) STILL REQUIRES THAT . . .

—  CPS must hold 3 hearings on ALL proposed School Actions – after the 3/31/13 Announcement. The public will get 15 days’ notice BEFORE any hearings can be held, but the Board must still wait 60 days BEFORE making final decisions.

—  CPS must still prepare and disclose DRAFT SCHOOL TRANSITION PLANS for each school on the 3/31/13 “hit list.” Those plans MUST at a minimum maintain the social service supports students had been getting at any Receiving School they go to.

—  CPS can’t put off doing the Master Plan for as long as the Mayor and CPS had hoped (2014):  Instead, CPS MUST disclose a draft 10-year Master Plan BY MAY 1st, 2013, and adopt the Final Plan by October 1st, 2013.

You have time to organize, shape the 10-Year Plan, and mobilize to improve and preserve our neighborhood public schools.


Want to show solidarity?  Join folks on the West Side at the Emergency Town Hall Meeting:
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13th:  6:00 PM at the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, 5820 W. Chicago Avenue – flier attached!

—  J


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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.