March 21, 2013
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced 19 new International Baccalaureate (IB); Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and Fine Arts programs will be established in welcoming schools next fall as part of CPS' work to ensure that students in every neighborhood have access to a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed.
This announcement comes on the heels of the comprehensive supports for all welcoming schools unveiled yesterday and follows rigorous community engagement during which parents called for improved academic opportunities for their children.
"For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom. By consolidating schools we can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school close to their home. Each welcoming school will have the things that parents, teachers and CPS agree students need, such as a library with more books and digital materials, air conditioning, computer and science technology upgrades, counseling and social work support," said Byrd-Bennett. "Nearly 20 schools will have additional tailored supports to implement rigorous STEM, IB and fine arts curricula so that students in every community across this city have comparable access to these important opportunities."
During the 39 community meetings held over the past few months by the Commission on School Utilization and CPS, parents and community members called for additional opportunities for students to access IB, STEM, and fine arts programs in schools in their neighborhoods. Based on that feedback and in-depth analysis conducted by CEO Byrd-Bennett's 40-person transition team, CPS has determined that 13 new STEM programs and 5 new IB Programmes, and a Fine Arts program will be implemented in 19 welcoming schools starting next fall. Proposed locations for the new programs will build stronger education pipelines from elementary schools in traditionally underserved areas to high-quality high school options that focus on IB, STEM, and Fine Arts. Schools designated to upgrade to these new programs will be announced in conjunction with CEO Byrd-Bennett's consolidation recommendations to the Board of Education.
"Now is the time to make smart investments alongside tough decisions to ensure our students can reach their bright futures. Our students cannot wait for us to put off these difficult decisions any longer," said Mayor Emanuel. "Every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves access to a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed, and expanding access to rigorous STEM, IB and fine arts learning opportunities earlier in life helps lay the academic groundwork for their future."
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 that meet the unique needs of their students; and a library equipped with additional books and digital learning materials. As such, the welcoming schools adopting the STEM focus, IB Programme or fine arts program will receive supports specific to their needs including engineering labs, new media labs, new or upgraded science labs and art rooms and new curricula and teacher training materials. These investments will be made possible by consolidating buildings and resources to redirect resources toward investments in high-quality educational opportunities.
Today's announcement builds on continuing efforts led by Mayor Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett to expand access to these more rigorous curricula and brings opportunity to students in neighborhoods that traditionally have not had it. Last year, Mayor Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett announced a total of 6 new wall-to-wall IB Programme high schools in neighborhoods across the city, and new IB Programmes at five high schools will open in the 2013-2014 school year. This school year, 5 dedicated Early College STEM high schools also opened their doors to students for the first time in addition to the city's first K-8 STEM Magnet Academy. From investments in early childhood education and a full school day to ensuring there are strong principals and teachers in our schools, CPS is doing everything we can to make sure Chicago's children will thrive and succeed.
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 consolidating resources from underutilized and under-resourced schools, CPS will be able 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.