Charter school approvals on Board of Education meeting agenda

December 19, 2012 2:42:54 PM PST
The Chicago school board is facing some difficult decisions over closing public schools and opening charter schools. The battle over school resources played out at Wednesday's school board meeting.

While approving new charter schools was on the school board agenda, controversy over school closings became front and center. The latest battle BETWEEN cps and the Chicago Teachers Union is over a leaked document that details closings. CPS says it is a document that was considered just a proposal under the previous CEO.

The board approved Wednesday the proposals of two new charter schools, one alternative contract school and one contract-to-charter conversion, all of which will open in September 2013. The board deferred votes on the proposals of two charter schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union accuses the city of lying about the school closings list. According to The Chicago Tribune, the paper obtained an internal September 10 Chicago Public Schools document that details plans to shut down 95 schools.

CPS has denied there is such a list and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett reiterated that point before the school board.

"There is no list of schools to be closed," Byrd Bennett said. CPS says the document The Tribune obtained was proposed by past leadership and is not supported by Byrd-Bennett.

"As the current CEO of this district, I will make and I will own all of the decisions in the process of school utilization," said Byrd-Bennett.

"There clearly is a plan," said Chicago Teachers Union's Kristine Mayle. "You don't do something on this scale without a plan."

CPS is in the early stages of figuring out which schools to close. Byrd-Bennett says, because of under enrollment, 144 schools are half empty.

The teachers union disputes CPS numbers, saying it is based on classrooms with 36 kids. The union is against school closings as long as CPS is opening new charter schools. Five were under consideration Wednesday for board approval, including applicants that had never run a school before. Despite that, many parents showed up in support of charters.

"Since I put her in a charter, she's been focused," said parent Tim Williams.

Board members did raise some concerns about the charter schools under consideration Wednesday. Board member Andrea Zopp Wanted more specifics about where the charters will be located, because that has yet to be determined.

Zopp also asked tough questions about school closings. She wanted to make sure CPS is being as transparent as possible with its process moving forward.


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