February 21, 2013
As part of a more comprehensive, rigorous process for evaluating charter school renewals, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today recommendations to close two charter high school campuses - Aspira Charter School’s Mirta Ramirez campus and Betty Shabazz Charter School’s DuSable campus - due to low performance. To better ensure all Chicago students receive a quality education to help them succeed, CPS is reviewing key academic, compliance, and fiscal management performance of the District’s charter school contract agreements that end on June 30, 2013. The charter contract renewal process is governed by the Illinois State School Code and these recommendations come ahead of a public hearing on charter school tonight with parents and community members.
“Each school, whether neighborhood or charter, must provide students with the rigorous, high-quality education they need to thrive,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “I am an advocate for every child in our District and will demand on their behalf that we hold every school accountable for their academic growth and take action when needed. These are tough choices, but they must be made in order to help our children succeed.”
Every school among the 12 charter operators due for renewal recommendations were reviewed on several factors, including but not limited to contract compliance, charter governance, history of fiscal management, academic growth and ISAT, PSAE and ACT test scores, and parent input. Ramirez and DuSable were identified as low-performing schools, and have been recommended to close through a phase-out process, allowing families and students the option to remain at their current school through graduation.
As an additional step to ensure accountability and a high-quality education at schools run by Aspira and Betty Shabazz, CPS further recommended that these two operators be required to meet more specific annual academic benchmarks. These benchmarks would be developed following final renewal decisions, and if they are not maintained, CPS will consider taking additional action.
In addition to the closure recommendations, CPS will recommend three-year contract renewals for both Architecture, Construction and Engineering Technical Charter School (ACE Tech) and Community Services West (CSW) Charter School. ACE Tech, which is currently operating off a one-year contract, is showing early signs of performance progress while CSW, an alternative charter high school, is moving to restructure its organization to better serve a distinct alternative student population. Shortened contract renewals for these two operators will allow CPS to check in on a timelier basis to ensure the quality of each school’s academic and financial performance within their unique cases.
These recommendations will be presented among broader recommendations on contract renewals for 12 charter school operators to the Board of Education tonight at 5 p.m. at CPS headquarters located at 125 S. Clark Street. With the exception of ACE Tech and CSW, all charter operators that will be discussed in tonight’s public hearing have been recommended for the full 5-year contract renewal. The full list includes:
- ACE Tech Charter School
- Amandla Charter School
- Aspira Charter School (Early College, Haugan and Ramirez campuses)
- Betty Shabazz International Charter School (DuSable, Shabazz and Sizemore campuses)
- Community Services West Career Academy
- KIPP Ascend Charter School
- North Lawndale College Prep (Christiana and Collins campuses)
- Passages Charter School
- Plato Learning Academy
- University of Chicago Charter School (Donoghue, North Kenwood/Oakland, Woodlawn and Woodson campuses)
- UNO (Casas, Fuentes, Homan Charter Elementary, Cisneros, Garcia, Paz, Marquez, Torres, Tamayo, Zizumbo, St. Marks, UNO Near West Elementary and UNO North Side Elementary campuses)
- Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago
The Board will vote on CPS’ renewal/closure recommendations at its February Board meeting scheduled for Wednesday, February 27. Specific contract obligations, including benchmarks required for Aspira and Betty Shabazz, will be determined between the February Board meeting and June 30, 2013 at which time charter contracts must be finalized.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.