May 20, 2013
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released nine updated draft transition plans for schools recommended for various actions by CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to address specific issues raised by state-mandated reports filed by hearing officers earlier this month. Updated plans include detailed school by school information covering issues ranging from safety and security planning to special education transition supports, among others. These updated draft plans can be viewed online at /qualityschools/Pages/parents.aspx.
“We took the issues raised by hearing officers seriously and were determined to address them in advance of the vote by the Chicago Board of Education to provide board members and the public with the level of specificity hearing officers felt was needed,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “These draft plans will continue to be informed by ongoing dialogue with parents and school community members in the coming weeks and months as we partner in supporting every child’s successful transition to their new Welcoming School this fall.”
The majority of issues raised by hearing officers centered on the need for more detailed information around safety supports for several Welcoming Schools. In the updated draft transition plans released today, CPS has added specific safety supports, including Safe Passage routes created in collaboration with the Chicago Police Department that will be in place at each Welcoming School this fall. Other specifics include investments in safety and security equipment and technology in each school.
Newly added details also include specific supports for diverse learners. The plans specifically identify available space required to accommodate class sizes for students with special needs and other supports required for students based on their Individualized Education Program (IEPs).
In addition to specific transition supports, safety and security, and diverse learners, CPS is making several investments to ensure every child has access to a quality, 21st Century education at every Welcoming School, including:
- Upgraded and expanded computer, science, engineering and media labs
- Air conditioning in every classroom
- A library in every school
- iPads for all students in grades 3-8
- New and upgraded technology supports including expanded Internet bandwidth
- Improved ADA accessibility
- Upgraded facilities and cosmetic improvements, including fresh paint, masonry work, new windows, new ceilings and floors, and others
- Improved food service capacity through enhanced lunch rooms and food services as needed to accommodate and service the new welcoming school student body
Under state law, the role of the independent hearing officer must issue a report that summarizes the public hearing in which they were assigned and determines whether the CEO complied with the requirements of the law and guidelines as set forth in SB630. The hearing officer's report summarizes the hearing and determines compliance with the statute.
The vast majority of the 60 reports filed by hearing officers were found in compliance with the guidelines set forth in Senate Bill 630. Nine reports concluded that CPS was not in compliance with state law. Those included: Mayo into Wells; Buckingham into Montefiore; Morgan to Ryder; Delano into Melody; Manierre into Jenner; King into Jensen; Jackson into Fort Dearborn; Stewart into Brennemann; and Stockton into Courtenay.
Conclusions included in a given hearing officer report reflect additional information the Board is using as part of its decision-making process around recommendations proposed by CEO Byrd-Bennett. The Board will vote this Wednesday on each of the CEO’s recommendations.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.