March 20, 2013
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett today unveiled a series of new investments and supports for all children attending welcoming schools next fall as a result of CPS’s work to consolidate underutilized, half-empty schools and provide our city’s students with the resources they need to learn and succeed.
“Every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves access to a high quality education that prepares them to succeed in life,” said Byrd-Bennett. “For too long, however, children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under resourced schools. By consolidating these schools we can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school close to their home.”
All welcoming schools will receive a combination of academic and capital supports based on their unique needs, and each and every welcoming school will have: air conditioning; new discretionary funding as part of the “Welcoming School Support Fund” that principals can use to invest in programs to meet the unique needs of their students; and a library to provide every school with access to books and digital learning materials.
“Our students cannot wait for us to put off these difficult decisions any longer. Each child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves a high quality education,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This problem is not unique to Chicago and like school systems where enrollment has dropped, we must make tough choices. Consolidating schools is the best way to make sure every student is in a safe and better performing school and that all of our students get the resources they need to learn and succeed."
Supports outlined in today’s announcement will be made possible by redirecting resources away from maintaining half-empty, costly facilities to making higher-performing welcoming schools even better.
“Each welcoming school will have the things that parents, teachers and CPS agree students need, such as a library, air conditioning, dramatic computer and science technology upgrades, and counseling and social work support,” said Byrd-Bennett.
Byrd-Bennett outlined the types of resources that will help all children attending welcoming schools have a safe and seamless transition to a new higher-performing school in the fall. Resources include academic supports for all students, capital investments for all welcoming schools, and targeted supports for students with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELL), and student in temporary living situations (STLS). Some of these include:
Student-focused supports that will benefit students both inside and outside the classroom. Supports include a menu of options available to all welcoming school principals and include resources for academic supports such as: tutoring; student engagement supports such as mentoring; social and emotional supports such as staff training on helping students with coping skills and managing stress; and library supports such as books and digital resources.
Capital supports to create a strong, supportive learning environment. All welcoming schools will also receive capital investments to ensure that all students can attend schools with enhanced learning environments such as: lunchrooms and food services that accommodate the new welcoming school student body; new and upgraded technology supports, such as expanded Internet bandwidth; security and safety supports, such as alarms and entry screening equipment; improved ADA accessibility; air-conditioning; and upgraded interiors in schools with the greatest need, such as floors, ceilings, masonry, and fresh paint.
Specific student population supports. Each transition plan will include support for students with disabilities, ELL students, and STLS students. Students within these populations will continue to receive support in their new welcoming school by trained staff, any necessary equipment in addition to student-specific profile information, and one-on-one consultations with school officials to identify and address their unique needs before the start of the school year.
Currently, the District operates over 511,000 seats for a student population of 403,000 with nearly 330 schools deemed as underutilized and nearly 140 of its schools more than half empty.
Chicago Public Schools faces a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year. By redirecting resources from underutilized and under-resourced schools, CPS will free up the resources to invest in quality schools where all students can flourish with the support of a dedicated community, principals and teachers. These new and improved schools will represent a new day for Chicago Public Schools and a better chance for students to succeed and thrive.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.