Posts Tagged ‘school facilities planning’

PSAT for 11-13-12: Tell new/re-elected state legislators to deny 3B’s extension

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

First, we want to take a moment to congratulate all of our new and re-elected state senators and representatives. Then we want to remind them why they were elected – to represent us in Springfield.

So, for today’s Public Schools Action Tuesday, please take  a moment to send a message to those senators and representatives still in the legislature who will attend the upcoming veto session and may be considering the request of new CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s for an extension of the state-mandated December 1 deadline for announcing school actions including school closures.

We say NO!

Here’s the letter I’m sending now:

Dear State Senator/Representative:


We oppose the request by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer Beverly Byrd- Bennett for an extension of the state-mandated deadline for announcing school actions from December 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013.

CEO Byrd-Bennett says that this change would allow CPS to carry out “a transparent and open process to properly engage the community around this work” in order to “rebuild trust” with the community.

She’s certainly right about the lack of trust in the community, but verbal promises from the fourth CPS CEO in as many years do nothing to rebuild that trust.

Last year, CPS under CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said “Trust us” when school actions were announced:

There will be significant opportunity for the parents and the public to provide feedback on any proposed school actions, including a formal public hearing – and, for closures and phase-outs, two additional community meetings. Parents, community members and the public can comment on the proposals during these meetings in January and February. CPS will evaluate the testimony presented and careful consider the issues raised during these meetings prior to presenting final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education for a vote.

This promised “careful consideration” resulted in no change to the original list of actions.

CEO Byrd-Bennett’s proposal includes disappointingly similar hollow promises of involvement.

More troubling, Byrd-Bennett did an end-run around the state-mandated Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force by appointing her own commission which, unlike the CEFTF, includes no one with a strong public track record of advocacy for Chicago public school students, parents or communities, and reportedly does not plan to meet in public as public bodies must do under the Open Meetings Act.

Further reason not to trust CPS this time is the about-face in the premise for school closings this year. Gone is last year’s set of three criteria, all of which were related to supposed underperformance. Since the CPS community has thoroughly exposed the unfair and illogical list of schools generated by this “criteria,” suddenly CPS is focused on saving money by closing underutilized schools, a concern that was not even mentioned last year. And where is the cost savings when CPS continues to open new charter schools, this year to the tune of $75 million, especially when charter schools overall do no better than regular schools CPS puts on the chopping block?

In order to give CEO Byrd-Bennett the extra time she seeks to rebuild trust with the community, we suggest that you:

  • Deny the request for a legislative extension. A delay until March 31 will only cause more inconvenience and disruption to families, staff and communities.
  • Propose a full year moratorium on CPS school actions instead, which should give the community enough time to determine whether or not her promises for community engagement are real or simply more empty words.
  • Require CPS to respect all mandates of SB630, which has yet to be fully implemented.

Thank you for your attention,

Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director

PSAT for 5-10-11: Time for fair, open facilities planning in CPS

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

It’s hard to believe (or is it?) that the same folks who had no problem giving UNO charter schools $98 million to build new charter schools and to leverage commercial investments for UNO, can’t seem to find the backbone to face a vote on a fair, open, accountable system of capital planning for Chicago Public Schools.

Yes, your Illinois General Assembly is likely to let SB 620 die without even being called for a vote.

The bill doesn’t cost a penny. In fact, a more transparent, truly prioritized process for deciding how scarce facilities funds should be used will most likely SAVE a lot of money and offer a better chance that the money that is spent goes to projects that are needed the most.

That’s got to be better for students.

More on SB 620 here.

Here’s what Blocks Together and other community activists are asking us to do:

Where is SB 620?

Friday May 13, 2011 is the last day for Bills to be called out of committee.

SB 620 is in the Executive Committee and it’s time for it to be called!

Contact the House of Representatives Executive Committee TODAY and ask Where is SB 620?

Call your legislator and ask for their leadership on SB 620. Many have co-sponsored the bill, and we thank them but we need the BILL to be called.

Dan Burke 217.782.1117 Chairman of the committee

Joseph Lyons 217.782.8400

Dan Brady 217.7821118

Eddie Acevedo 217.782.2855

Luis Arroyo 217.782.0480

Maria Berrios 217.558.1032

Mike Bost 217.782.02387

Eddie Lee Jackson, Sr. 217.782.5951

Robert Rita 217.558.1000

Ed Sulliavan, Jr. 217.782.3696

Michael Tryon 217.782.0432

Contact your local alderman, tell him/her to send a SUPPORT LETTER calling for House passage of SB 620 addressed to Speaker Michael Madigan and House Executive Committee Chair Dan Burke.  It can be sent to State Rep. Dan Burke, Chair of the House Executive Committee: . You can also “cc” it to Rep. Soto’s  Springfield office c/o

Different schools’ and communities’ stories TELL YOUR LOCAL STORIES ABOUT the different kinds of problems your school/community has faced. Tell your lawmaker “WE SUPPORT SB 620 – to put all children’s education FIRST, we want fairness and transparency, a master plan to fix all our schools, and open decisionmaking about school actions. WE – YOUR CONSTITUENTS – WANT YOU TO SUPPORT SB 620.


Visit your state legislators in their local offices – The General Assembly isn’t in session – State Reps should be home.

Locally a rally to garner up support

Wednesday May 11th at NOON at the State of IL Bldg (Randolph/Clark)

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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.