January 11, 2013
Today, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced a second round of community engagement around the District’s utilization crisis to allow parents and other members of our school communities to provide feedback on specific schools in their neighborhoods that may be considered as part of CPS’ efforts to right-size the District. Her intent to do this was validated by the Commission on School Utilization report released yesterday.
“We recognize the need for a more granular level of community engagement – it’s something we’ve heard loud and clear as part of the community meetings the Commission on School Utilization has hosted over the last several weeks,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “It is critical that the community has the chance to give us their feedback on individual schools, and we want to provide them with that opportunity.”
Starting Jan. 28, CPS will hold at least 28 meetings throughout Chicago. Divided by two meetings per CPS school Network, communities will have an opportunity to give specific feedback about individual schools. Once CEO Byrd-Bennett has completed her review of the Commission on School Utilization’s recommendations, CPS will release a list of schools that remain on the table for possible consideration as part of its efforts to right-size the District.
The second round of community engagement will run through the end of February. There will be time for public comment at each meeting, which will be moderated by an independent facilitator. Dates, times and locations of these meetings will be announced in the coming days. Parents will be informed of these meetings via multiple forms of communication, including robo-calls, letters mailed home, by email, via cps.edu and at individual schools.
CEO Byrd-Bennett formed the eight-member Commission to rigorously and respectfully engage school communities around CPS’ efforts to right-size the District, which will allow CPS to better invest its resources to provide a high-quality education for every student in every community. Since last November, the Commission has listened to hundreds of community members at six community meetings, as well as collected data and information from subject matter experts such as CPS officials, academics, researchers and Chicago Teachers Union leaders.
After gathering community feedback at these meetings, the Commission provided CEO Byrd-Bennett yesterday with a report and recommendations to consider as a part of her decision-making around CPS’ efforts to right-size the District. She is currently reviewing those recommendations and after briefing Chicago Board of Education (Board) members, CEO Byrd-Bennett will provide a response to the Commission in the coming days. She may accept some or all of their recommendations. This process will help remove schools from consideration and allow CPS to look more closely at schools that remain on the table.
CPS will post this list of schools online after the CEO has submitted her response to the Commission. These schools will not necessarily be included as part of a final set of recommendations to the Board as this work will continue over the next several weeks.
“This second round of public meetings will allow CPS to conduct a much-needed deeper dive with school communities,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “We want parents, community members and the public to better inform us of what they know at the school level that our own data may not have captured.”
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.