Will Chicago Public Schools move to an elected school board?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Will Chicago Public Schools move to an elected school board? Both candidates in the race for mayor say they support a board that is elected, rather than appointed, like it is now.

For almost 24 years, the nation's 3rd largest school system has operated under a school board where every member is hand picked by the mayor.

"Right now, what happens is that people who are politically connected connected to the mayor with business backgrounds, bankers lawyers, etc wind up populating the school board and that is not right," said Jesse Sharkey, Chicago Teacher's Union President.

The Chicago Teachers Union has been strongly pushing for an elected school board. Their rallying cry became even louder after Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school board closed 50 schools. With the unions choice for mayor Toni Preckwinkle and her opponent Lori Lightfoot backing an elected school board, reality of one is a step closer. But, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas says not so fast.

"The argument for an appointed school board is that it gives the mayor the ability to select individuals that has expertise in budget and management as well as education," said Vallas.

However, Vallas admits, during the past 10 years, an appointed school board has not served CPS students well. So, he proposes a hybrid board, where the mayor has a fixed number of appointees and the rest will be elected from local school councils.

"I think people need to have a direct say in the policy making body that runs the schools, that is the school board, we should vote for that that is what they do everywhere else except Chicago," Sharkey said.

All other Illinois school boards are elected. But, Vallas worries about the danger of money and politics that an all elected school board would bring.

"With some of these local school board elections, you get 10% of the people voting, In Los Angeles, charters raised so much money they got control of the school board," said Vallas.

A change of state law is needed for Chicago to convert from an appointed to an elected school board. During his campaign, Governor JB Pritzker said he supported an elected school board.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.