January 22, 2014
CHICAGO — The Board of Education today approved seven proposals for new charter schools to open over the next two school years, giving families across the city more high-quality school options.
The seven approvals were among a total of 22 new charter proposals originally submitted for review in the 2013 New School RFP process. Five charters are approved to open for School Year 2014-2015 (SY14-15) and the remaining two for School Year 2015-2016 (SY 15-16).
"As an educator, providing high-quality schools for our children is my top priority," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. "As a District, we must continue to support and expand high-quality education options throughout the city to meet the goal that our students are 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound."
"The fact that there is high demand for existing public charter schools across Chicago is a sign that students and their families desire high-quality school options," Byrd-Bennett said. "The new schools approved today will offer a broad range of innovative ideas and enriching academic environments for our students and provide them with the knowledge and skills they need and deserve."
Byrd-Bennett noted that the majority of this year's charter proposals were either denied or withdrawn by their sponsors.
"We will insist on only the highest-quality schools for our children – be they traditional public schools, public charters or any other kind. Our children get only one chance at an education, and we must make sure to make it count," she said.
The Request for Proposals (RFP) process for the schools began in August and was the most rigorous the District has ever undertaken, engaging the community through its Neighborhood Advisory Councils (NACs) as well as with two public hearings in advance of today's board meeting.
NAC volunteers devoted more than 60 hours to the process, reviewing proposals and serving as the liaisons between CPS, their communities and the prospective applicants to ensure that the proposals offered high-quality educational options that correspond with each community's needs and preferences.
Bringing in innovative school models and supporting schools with strong leaders and proven records is critical to CPS' efforts to maximize strong school options for students and parents across the city. Therefore, all proposals were required to demonstrate a strong track record of driving significant academic gains with student populations similar to CPS, including students with disabilities, English Language Learners, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch rates, and students in temporary living situations. They also were required to submit substantial evidence of their capacity to manage the financial and operational responsibilities of their proposed schools.
Today, the Board approved the following charter proposals:
- Great Lakes Academy (1 campus) – a school with a leader who has a track record of driving student achievement at schools with similar student populations; the founding Board has a high degree of expertise across a wide range of areas critical to opening and managing a high quality school and reflects a diversity of social, gender, age, and economic backgrounds.
- Noble Street (1 campus) – a school network with a proven track record of academic success in Chicago; the average ACT score across the network is 20.5; Six of the network's schools are rated Level 1 and four are rated Level 2.
ITW – the network secured a commitment from Illinois Tool Works to fund three quarters of the total projected acquisition and construction cost of $20 million for the proposed facility in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.
The Board approved the following proposals with contingencies:
- Noble Exeter (1 campus) – a school that will draw on the innovative academic instruction offered at New England's prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy, guided by a proven academic approach that strengthens critical thinking skills and fully prepares students for collegiate and professional success.
- Concepts Schools (2 campuses) – a school network with a Level 1 Math and Science Academy that meets the District's replication criteria.
Chicago Lawn – a school that will offer a robust system of engaging parents, including a parent involvement report card and student-led parent-teacher conferences; will offer an extended school day and year – 185 total days and a 7-hour school day.
Chatham – a school with the mission to provide students with a college preparatory curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); will be part of the Legacy Project, a multi-million dollar redevelopment campaign in Chatham.
- Chicago Education Partnership (1 campus) – a school that will provide students and families with a holistic learning experience from 7:30 in the morning to 6:30 at night, offering a continuum of services in partnership with the after-school partner, By the Hand; applicant received letters of support from almost 30 community, political, and faith-based organizations in the area; approved to open in SY 15-16.
- Intrinsic (1 campus) – a school where the instructional strategies are aligned with the mission to create a student- and data-driven educational setting that creatively infuses technology; each student will have an individualized learning plan based on prior academic and socio-emotional history and personal interest; approved to open in SY 15-16.
Conditional approval requires charter operators to follow individualized contingency plans, ensuring that the schools meet the District's high-quality standards before they are granted full approval.
All schools approved to open in SY 14-15 will operate under CPS' new student-base budgeting model, which helps ensure equitable funding for all District schools.
Four charter operators who submitted proposals to open a total of 11 schools were denied:
- Connected Futures Academy (5 campuses)
- Curtis Sharif Stem Academy (4 campuses)
- Be the Change (1 campus)
- Asian Human Services (1 campus)
Four additional proposals withdrew during the RFP process.
The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school system.