CPS Increases Facility Standard Transparency 

CPS releases guidelines and report on space utilization of schools across the district – shows 50% of schools are underutilized


Release includes complete database of CPS properties, capital review process, property leases and facility performance standards


December 28, 2011


The Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) today released a new set of transparent data and analysis of its facilities to comply with the requirements of Public Act 097-0474. For the first time, CPS released these documents for public review, including school by school utilization reports, a complete database of CPS properties, the capital review process and proposed facility performance standards on the CPS Facilty Standards website.


“These reports illuminate the complex facility challenges facing our District,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.  “As we work to provide high quality school options for children in all communities, these reports and analyses will be helpful tools for guiding our decision making.”


The four reports posted today include:


Space Utilization Standards and School by School Reports


Included in these reports is a new formula to determine how each school is using its available classrooms and whether the school is considered efficient, underutilized, or overcrowded. The new formula considers elementary schools to be at optimum efficiency when using roughly 77 percent of its classrooms for general education homerooms, with 30 students per homeroom.


Schools that are within plus or minus 20 percent of the ideal enrollment are considered efficient. Schools with enrollments less than this efficiency range are considered underutilized while those with enrollments more than this efficiency range are considered overcrowded.


The report shows that approximately 50% of schools in the district are currently underutilized.


“These new standards will help us shape our long-term portfolio strategy to ensure that every child in every neighborhood has access to a world class education,” said Brizard.


Capital Needs Review Process


As CPS prepares to develop its capital improvement plan and a 10 –year educational master facility plan, the capital needs review process will serve as a key component to accurately assess the needs of schools throughout the district.  There are two ways in which CPS will assess the capital needs of its facilities:


  • A self-assessment form to be completed by school administrators.  This form will allow the staff at each school to perform its own assessment, as they have an intimate knowledge of the issues within their building, and report any potential concerns to the Department of Operations.
  • A detailed biennial assessment of each facility operated by the district that will be conducted every two years (this was previously done every three years) by a team of architects and engineers that are able to diagnose issues that may not be apparent to the staff working within the building.


This two-step process will allow CPS to better understand the conditions at every school and most importantly, allow CPS to prioritize projects so that the schools with the most critical needs are addressed in a timely manner. These tools are critical to create better educational environments for students to adequately prepare them for college and career.


Proposed Facility Performance Standards


In order to ensure that CPS facilities support educational functions and student safety, these proposed standards were developed to provide guidance for future renovations and new construction projects. The standards will provide optimum and minimum facility performance standards for acoustics, ADA accessibility, thermal comfort, daylight, indoor air quality, furniture ergonomics, technology, life safety, plumbing and washroom access, environmental hazards, and walkability.  The minimum standards are developed to ensure that renovation projects provide spaces that are conducive to learning while at the same time address the existing constraints of the building. The optimal standards are developed to provide guidance for the design and construction of new school buildings.  CPS will hold a public hearing on the proposals on March 6th, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in the CPS Board Chambers, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor, to gather input from the community and other CPS stakeholders. This input will be evaluated prior to finalizing the facility standards that will be adopted by CPS.


Database of CPS Properties


This searchable database includes a list of all properties, both owned and leased. The database includes addresses, property names, zip codes, own/lease categorization, and copy of leases (if applicable).


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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