September 23, 2013
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released the final version of its 10-year Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP), the District’s blueprint for facilities investments over the next decade. The EFMP will support the District’s goal of creating 21st-century learning environments and expanding high- quality options for families throughout Chicago. Though the District faces significant financial challenges, failing to make critical investments in our schools and classrooms is something that our students and our city can no longer afford. In order to prepare our students for high quality jobs here in Chicago and in order to compete with school districts across the state, CPS is leveraging every possible dollar designated to capital projects to provide students with the resources they need to receive a high quality education. The Chicago Board of Education (BOE) will vote on the plan at its September meeting, scheduled for this Wednesday, September 25.
The 10-year EFMP plan includes a number of objectives, including:
- Improving CPS facilities in order to provide safe, healthy and supportive learning environments such as sufficient space for the number of students in the building and access to advanced technology, playlots, modern computer and media labs, libraries, and ADA accessibility;
- Upgrading facilities district-wide so that classrooms are equipped to deliver core instructional programs and to support, as needed, specialized programs through dedicated spaces, specialized laboratories, unique equipment, and enhanced technology infrastructure;
- Directing resources toward upgrading the quality of education students receive by expanding access to high-quality programs such as Selective Enrollment Schools, International Baccalaureate (IB) Programmes, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and Service Leadership (military) schools. The Chicago area has near 10% unemployment, but more than 100,000 unfilled jobs and roughly 77% of all jobs today require some kind of technical skill set. Access to a STEM education is one way to address the skills gap that undermines our economic competitiveness and threatens our future prosperity;
- Addressing the gap between students who qualify for selective enrollment schools and the amount of seats available. Last year, 18,000 students applied for 3,000 freshman selective enrollment seats across the City. There are approximately 2,500 students who qualify for selective enrollment high schools, but CPS does not have enough capacity in selective enrollment high schools to accommodate these students; and
- Alleviating overcrowding at our neighborhood schools that are being stretched to capacity with capital improvements that will allow for a better learning environment for our children to focus and excel in the classroom. Based on 10th day enrollment in SY13-14, CPS’ Space Utilization Standards indicate that
we have 84 schools that are overcrowded.
“Our top priority is to provide every child in every neighborhood with the high-quality education they deserve
so they are prepared for success in college, career and life and this plan will assist us in laying out and executing that blueprint,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “CPS will prioritize facility renovations and investments in high-quality programs as we continue to address $1 billion-plus deficits annually over the next few fiscal years.”
The EFMP is a requirement of Illinois law (PA 97-0474 as amended by PA 97-1133). The law requires that CPS will hereafter prepare a 10-year educational facility master plan every five years, with updates 2 ½ years after the approval of the initial 10-year plan. As has been encouraged and advised by the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, CPS will view this plan as a living document to be enhanced and refreshed through ongoing dialogue with and constructive feedback from parents, families, educators, community members, support organizations, and other interested parties. CPS will, for example, update the plan’s 10-year enrollment projections to be based on this year’s 20th-day enrollment numbers, once those are available and necessary adjustments have been made. CPS will also update the plan to reflect changes resulting from the ongoing building assessment process.
The EFMP was developed using input on the draft plan released in May. This plan reflects months of outreach and dialogue with principals, parents, teachers, local school councils (LSCs), sister city agencies, educational facilities experts, community members and feedback from social media reflecting the public’s thoughts on what our students need to succeed. CPS conducted surveys, reviewed existing strategic plans, conducted community engagement forums and participated in meetings with the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force as part of the overall engagement work.
After the draft was published, CPS continued to engage stakeholders to improve the plan, holding 25 meetings and hearings, including with the Parent Involvement Advisory Board, the LSC Advisory Board, Community Action Councils, community groups, parent groups, citywide clergy, LSC members, and a youth forum in partnership with Mikva Challenge. Five public hearings were held throughout the city from September 3 to 11.
After hearing feedback from the community, parents, and teachers the EMFP was updated to include:
- Language and imagery of the five-year action plan The Next Generation: Chicago’s Children to cite specific educational goals and standards;
- The updated projections by community area include an additional year, out to 2017, to address feedback about the date range of population projections;
- Additional information regarding the intended scope and mission of the advisory committee formed by the City of Chicago to address the reuse of buildings recently vacated by school actions;
- Adjustments on the ideal capacity of particular schools after verifying parents’ concerns;
- Guidelines for temporary or permanent capacity expansions, and the options for addressing overcrowding for permanent capacity expansions in the form of an annex to an existing school or in the form of a new school; and
- Updated building assessment information and additional information about the process.
The EFMP is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Byrd-Bennett's commitment to leveraging every capital dollar and TIF fund available to provide more choices for parents and for every child to have an education option that meets his or her specific needs and potential. This year, the Mayor and CPS have been working on capital improvement projects across the City that represents the EMFP's larger plan to increase quality education options by investing in:
- For FY13, CPS invested over $375 million in capital improvements District-wide, including investments of approximately $155 million to support our welcoming schools. These investments included new science labs, engineering labs, computers, wireless access, libraries, art rooms, air conditioners, and base building repairs.
- Capital improvements at Addams and Gallistel Elementary Schools, two of the most overcrowded schools in the District, and a new elementary school for the far Southeast side to provide another quality option to the community;
- A new annex at Wildwood School in the Edgebrook community, which is currently operating at 175%
- A STEM track starting in kindergarten to prepare Garfield Park students for jobs of the future with new computer and engineer labs and matching rigorous curriculums at Melody and Faraday Elementary Schools and Al Raby High School;
- A new Back of the Yards high school, a neighborhood school which will include an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The City of Chicago is adding IB Diploma Programs to 10 additional high schools, with at least one in each CPS region, to increase access to quality education options;
- 300 to 400 new selective enrollment seats at Walter Payton College Prep to meet the demand from parents and students. Last year, 6200 students applied for 220 spots at Walter Payton College Prep; and
- Nearly doubling the number of students admitted to the selective enrollment school New Jones College
Prep to a total of 1700 by 2016.
All of these announcements were spread throughout different communities of the City and addressed all of the core priorities for the EFMP plan: investing in infrastructure at our current neighborhood schools, addressing overcrowding, and increasing high-quality education options for students and parents. The Mayor’s Office and CPS will continue to engage the community to be a partner in this process for investing funds earmarked towards capital construction to implement this ten year plan in modernizing schools and build a brighter future for every single child.
As we face the current fiscal crisis, there is a $3.5 billion deficit in capital improvements to our schools for repair and maintenance alone while there are limited state capital and TIF dollars available that can only be designated to school improvement projects. Failing to make critical investments in our schools and classrooms is something that our students and our city can no longer afford Since 2012, CPS has worked to leverage and commit approximately one billion capital dollars to improve access to technology, critical learning resources, and amenities at schools across the District to give children the support they need to excel and thrive in the classroom.
The final EFMP can be viewed at www.cps.edu.