Friday, June 28, 2013

Schools Action Alert - Call the Alderman!

Our schools will experience major budget deficits next year.

To give you an idea of local loss:
Graham: $300k
Haines: -$300k (Loss of 3 positions)
Sheridan: -$516k (Loss of 3 teachers & 3 teacher assistants)

The citywide parent organization, Illinois Raise Your Hand for Public Education, is gathering budget loss information from parent members. So far they have heard from 142 schools and over $82 million has been lost.

Please call Alderman Balcer and ask him to tell the Mayor to declare a TIF surplus. A

lderman Balcer's Office phone number: 773 254 6677.

 Possible scripts:
a) If you just want to leave a message OR that's the only option: "Hi! I'd like to leave a message for Alderman Balcer. My name is ____ & I am a (CPS Parent/Parent/Concerned Citizen/Taxpayer/Voter) concerned about the severe budget cuts to our schools. (Pick a school or Pick all 3 above) lost $___ which will result in the loss of teachers, support staff, supplies and textbooks, impacting the education of thousands of kids in our Ward. The mayor needs to declare a TIF surplus & give money back to the schools. Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million to CPS. We know this can be done. We expect you to call the Mayor and ask him to declare a TIF surplus. We'll be bringing a letter by to get your support. Thank you."

b.) Maybe you actually get him on the phone: "Hi, this is _________I am a constituent and my school _______just lost _________ ( x dollars or x positions). We need Alderman _______'s help in restoring these positions. As you know, our schools weren't properly funded to begin with and we can't operate with this loss.
Possible answer: Well, there's not much the City Council can do when it comes to education.
You: "Actually, there was $1.7 billion in TIF accounts at the end of 2011 and $454 million was diverted from Chicago property tax revenue into TIF accounts. 53% of all TIF surplus money would go back to the schools. We would like you to call Mayor Emanuel and ask that he declare a TIF surplus so that we don't have to lose ______ positions."
Possible answer: "Well, much of that money is tied up. We don't know for sure how much is in there."
You: "Mayor Daley declared a TIF surplus 3 years ago and returned $90 million. We know this can be done. We expect you to call and we'll be bringing a letter by to get your support."

Thank you so much!

If you'd like to learn more about TIFs you can listen to & view slides of the 11th & 12th Ward TIF Illumination talk from a couple of weeks ago. It was sponsored by the McKinley Park Civic Association & the Bridgeport Alliance.
Don't have time to listen? Here's some basics on TIFs:

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Charters while Public Schools Close?

Updates from the May Meeting

The BA is continuing to work with local schools by recruiting volunteers to help with reading, tutoring and office work. Teachers, principals, parents and school members met on June 6 to list their most pressing concerns. Future meetings are planned.

BA member supported Communities Organized for Democratic Education (CODE) which is working to pass a corporate tax accountability bill in the Illinois General Assembly. Closing corporate loopholes would add approximately $440 million to the state budget. Allowing the State Treasurer to post corporate taxes would allow Illinois citizens to see how corporations doing business in Illinois contribute to our economy. BA members hopped a bus to Springfield to lobby our local senators and representatives to support these bills.

The 31st Street bus effort is still going strong. State Representative Esther Golar introduced a Resolution in the House in support of the bus. The BA will be meeting next month with the CTA to learn more about the planned study of the eastern portion of the route.

The Active Transport Alliance (ATA) requested that we consider becmoing the host organization for Bridgeport. A special meeting was held and members agreed. The ATA works closely with the CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) to improve public transportation, biking and pedestrian safety.

The TIF meeting on June 5, in cooperation with the McKinley Park Neighbors Association, was well attended. Members that went to the session plan to meet again.

Check out the BA display at VersionFest 13. This year's theme is “the human operating system” and what could be more human than what neighbors are doing at BA meetings.

We helped close down the coal fired power plant that was harming our children and seniors. We started meetings with the CTA to bring back our bus on31st Street. We helped parents and school members keep our local schools off the CPS closing list. We helped get a new playground for McGuane Park. And BA members are continuing to help where we can.

David Hatch presented a great deal of information at the May meeting. For those who missed this, please see his website

It is time to elect new leaders for the B A. Elections will be held on June 27 at general meeting

Friday, June 21, 2013

Missed the TIF Illumiator Workshop?

It was a packed house at the McKinley Park Library for the 11th and 12th Ward Illumination. The TIF Illumination Project lit up the 16 TIFs inside those two wards. See the presentation and listen to the audio (59 minutes).

Don't have time to listen? Here's some basics on TIFs

Parents, teachers, & community - call your Alderman. Ask your Alderman to tell the Mayor to declare a TIF surplus.

Walk with Benton House

Walk With Us June 29 To Raise Funds For Bridgeport’s Food Pantry 

On Saturday, June 29, thousands of men, women and children will gather on Chicago’s lakefront to raise funds and awareness for the fight to end hunger in Cook County.

The Hunger Walk is a fun opportunity for all types of businesses, organizations and individuals to help ensure their neighbors get the food they need.

The Benton House Food Pantry relies on the generosity of the community to offer over: 1700 families over 100,000 lbs of food each year. It is a wonderful 5k ( 3.1 mile) walk along the lake next to Soldier Field.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, who makes Bridgeport’s Food Pantry sustainable, will contribute $12.00 in food credits for every walker who registers and attends the walk in Benton House’s name.

Register Here 

Education News

In a partnership with Raise Your Hand, a citywide parent group, we are helping to form a Ward 11 TIF Squad. CPS has drastically cut individual school budgets for next school year. Some known examples in our neighborhood include: Graham -$300k; Haines -$300k; and Sheridan -$516k. We need people to call Alderman Balcer at 773 254 6677. Ask him to call the Mayor to tell him he needs to declare a TIF Surplus to give some funds back to our schools. If you'd like to get updates on the TIF Squad and possible Toilet Paper Drives (yeah, it's that bad) in our neighborhood, please contact Jennie at

10 YEAR DRAFT MASTER FACILITIES PLAN Please read this blog post to find out more about our efforts to bring people together to provide input to CPS: Thank you!!!

Rally at the Board of Education

Please join us!!!

The Board of Education has told the city that their reckless school closings would fix the budget, provide resources and relieve overcrowding at other schools. Instead, Local School Councils have been handed draft budgets that would force layoffs and program cuts in nearly every school in the system.

Rally at the Board of Education Meeting, 125 S Clark St. Wednesday June 26th
Beginning 8:30am

The Board of Ed is tripping over itself to close schools and slash budgets. They are happy to fix their supposed budget problems at the expense of students and educators, but haven’t lifted a finger to raise money from their millionaire friends and the business community. CPS should join parents and CTU members in fighting for hundreds of millions of dollars for schools through: Returning TIF money to schools

Renegotiating predatory interest rate swaps with major banks A progressive income tax that makes the rich pay a fair share Join parents, students and educators from across the city to demand that Chicago puts our schools first! Fight the budget cuts and help win for our students.

Please invite LSC members, parents and students from your school!

Help the Police

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BA in the News!

CPS protesters claim budget cuts could leave students without toilet paper

"So we got socked," says CPS parent Jennie Biggs. "Losing money and now we also, my principal also has to pick up supplies, so there's a real chance he's going to have to pick between teachers and toilet paper."

Friday, June 7, 2013

Schools Update

The Bridgeport Alliance hosted a School Task Force meeting Thursday, June 6, from 6:30 - 7:30 at Benton House. Our goal for this initial meeting was to start building a school and
community network of people who want to get involved in strengthening our schools and our community. We need all of our school communities to come together, learn from one another, and help each other out when needed.

Also, as a community, we should give input into the "Bridgeport-Chinatown" (CPS title of our neighborhood) section of the CPS Draft 10 Year Educational Facilities Master Plan. This, by law, was due May 1, 2013. The final 10 Year Facilities Plan is due October 1, 2013. If you would like to get involved in collecting information, checking data, and responding to this Plan on behalf of our community, please get in touch with the BA at

Please get in touch, too, if you'd like to get involved in our schools.

Here's a link to the Draft 10 Year Educational Facilities Master Plan:

Things to pay special attention to:
  • Pages 78 & 79.... It's officially due October 1, 2013 so there's a list of how CPS will engage communities this summer. You can also find the "Conclusion" here.
  • Pages 124 - 129... "Bridgeport-Chinatown" section. If anyone would like to help come up with input on this section OR if you want to check CPS data for accuracy OR if you see a glaring error, please see the email above and get in touch.
  • You can also find an individual school's "Educational Facilities Master Plan" on
    • Click on the "Schools" Tab (on the far left of the CPS homepage)
    • Go to "Find a School."
    • Type in your school's name and click Find.
    • Once on your school's page, scroll all the way down to the very last report under
    • "Report Name". Click on "Education Facilities Master Plan."

We recommend you look this over within your school community: at a LSC or PAC meeting, with teachers or with your principal, etc. We know there are some errors for some schools & we should try to get them corrected.

Thanks for your continued commitment to our schools and our community!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Bridgeport Alliance is excited to be part of Version13: An Urban Operating System

Version Festival 13 will present projects by cultural workers, community developers, social entrepreneurs, artists, designers, boutique manufacturers, food interventionists, public space hackers, service mediaticians, urban planners, cultural geographers and adventure capitalists, to share their ideas to develop a collective hack of the current urban operating system.​ ​​

June 14 through June 22, 2013

To learn more visit

BA In the News

Read what people are saying about last night's TIF Illuminator Workshop!

Progress Illinois - TIF Program Angers Bridgeport, McKinley Park Residents

DNA Info - TIF Workshop Illuminates Complicated Tax Projects