June 26, 2013
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced today the 2013 Options RFP, an expansion of re-engagement services for Chicago youth not currently enrolled in school. The expansion effort will add over 800 seats in alternative option schools for school year 2014-15 through new and expanded partnerships with successful providers that specialize in work with out-of-school and off-track youth.
CEO Byrd-Bennett presented the alternative options expansion today to the Board of Education (BOE) during their monthly meeting. The proposal to add seats will build on CPS’ ongoing efforts in this area including the addition of over 2,500 alternative option seats that will be available next school year. With the addition of the 800 seats, the continued expansion will nearly double enrollment capacity in alternative option schools from 5,339 seats in 2010 to 9,439 seats in 2014.
“We will not give up on any student. Doubling the number of quality options and alternative pathways to nontraditional learning environments allows us to help our hardest to reach children and provide them a chance to succeed,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “Meeting more of our children’s unique needs through alternative options is a key piece of my five-year action plan. With parents, teachers and principals working together, we can bring students who are out of school or off-track back onto a path to reaching their goals.”
Ongoing efforts to continue expanding alternative option schools include the Board of Education’s (BOE) approval of a second Camelot acceleration academy that will serve 375 out-of-school and at-risk youth aged 16-21 in school year 2013-14 in the Englewood community. Camelot schools also operate a successful Excel Academy serving Roseland and Morgan Park that opened in 2012.
As part of the 2013 Options RFP, a special multiple- site dropout charter to be run by the Pathways in Education – Illinois and two additional contract schools run by Camelot Schools will be present to the BOE for approval. If approved, these schools will open in school year 2014-15.With these new and existing alternative options providers, there is an opportunity to expand the number of available seats in coming years based on need.
The proposed expansion comes with a strategic approach by both placing additional seats in neighborhoods with the greatest need and by incorporating community outreach to identify and bring back into the system CPS’s out-of-school and off-track youth. Earlier this year, the District launched Student Outreach and Re-engagement Centers in Garfield Park, Roseland and Little Village to proactively find these youth and support their return to school. In addition, providers are required to execute outreach to find and reconnect with out-of-school and off-track youth through such means as phone calls and door knocking.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.