CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to Launch Thorough Community Engagement Process On School Actions 

CEO is to seek extension of school actions deadline and appoint independent commission of expert stakeholders to guide engagement


November 2, 2012


Chicago – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced the District’s plan to seek an extension of the December 1 statutory deadline to release school actions in order to launch a rigorous, transparent and open dialogue with school communities over the next several months to help the District make more informed decisions around school actions and better invest resources that will help kids access a high-quality education.


CEO Byrd-Bennett announced the appointment of a nine-member Commission on School Utilization composed of stakeholders with different experience and expertise who will lead this community engagement process, gather information and provide a written report to guide CPS in making recommendations around school actions. CPS is asking the Illinois legislature to support its request by amending the state law that governs school actions to include a one-time deadline extension of March 31.


“I consulted with the mayor, the Board, members of my team, community members and other key stakeholders to assemble this independent commission charged with leading the work required to help our kids access a high-quality education,” said CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett. “Our goal is to give the community the respect they deserve in this process, rebuild trust with CPS and create a path for right-sizing our district so that we can better invest resources in every child and every school in our city.”


Next week, the commission will begin its work and issue a schedule of upcoming public hearings.


Members of the Commission on School Utilization are:


  • The Honorable Iris Y. Martinez, Illinois state senator
  • Frank M. Clark, a civic leader and former chairman and chief executive officer of ComEd
  • John Hannah, a faith leader and senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church
  • Terry Hillard, a safety expert and former Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department
  • 21st Ward Alderman Howard B. Brookins
  • Dr. Fausto E. López, a leadership coach and former CPS principal and teacher
  • Earnest Gates, a community leader who heads the nonprofit Near West Side Community Development Commission
  • Shirley Calhoun, a CPS parent, grandparent and Fiske Elementary assistant parent coordinator, and
  • Deberah Perkins, a former CPS teacher.


To view complete biographies of commission members, visit www.cps.edu/independentcommission.


In order to extend the deadline for releasing the list of schools subject to actions, CPS is seeking a legislative measure to extend the deadline stipulated in Illinois law SB 630 that states school actions must be announced by December 1 each year. Extending the deadline to March 31 will give the commission the time it needs to rigorously engage communities and will provide schools with the time they need to focus on preparing their students for annual ISAT tests and avoid any distractions to student learning.


“We must be committed to a transparent and open process to properly engage the community around this work, and we also need to acknowledge that our District is not serving all the needs of all our children because our resources are stretched so thin,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “We simply can’t do what is necessary for our kids while school buildings are crumbling or provide the resources for a 21st century education that they deserve. When we consolidate schools that are underutilized or half empty, we will be able to better invest those resources across the district.”