Chicago School Board votes to add more charter schools

January 26, 2011 3:27:35 PM PST
The Chicago School Board will increase the number of charter schools in the city, a move opponents argued would take resources away from neighborhood schools.

Hundreds of people from both sides attended the Wednesday Chicago School Board meeting. The board met behind closed doors after two hours of public comment, most of which encouraged an increase in the number of charter schools.

"Vote yes on those schools that have applications. This is the first step. The people have spoken," said Pastor Walter Matthews, Charter School supporter.

"Since he's been in the school he's graduated with honors and he doesn't need any assistance anymore," said Bryant Coulter, CPS parent.

"Please continue to support charter schools and insure choice for other Chicago neighborhoods....please continue to invest in the model that has proven successful," said Amanda Manning, CPS parent.

"They are not the answer to everything, but as you've heard [in] testimony after testimony, they are working," said Alvin Bridges, Parents for School Choice.

Opponents of the charter expansion want to see the money spent on improving existing neighborhood schools. They question the financial sustainability of charter schools.

"We are still for choice and we support the idea that we have great schools, but we also want to make sure we invest in neighborhoods-- not to the detriment of other schools," said Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union president.

"As determined parents we want our schools improved so that we can be compared to any school in Chicago," said Ada Andino, CPS parent.

"They're opening all these charter schools and spending money where there is good public schools," said Araceli Gonzalez.

The expansion of charter schools includes adding schools, increasing enrollment, and in some case adding more grades. In all, the expansion would allow for spaces for 6,000 students.

School board members approved the expansion around 5 p.m. Wednesday. They also voted in measures related to the creation of a South Shore high school, food allergies and the expansion of CPS's Breakfast in the Classroom program.