Friday, December 13, 2013

NAC Update

Thank you to all who attended the Tuesday meeting hosted by the McKinley Park Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) at SEIU offices at 2229 S. Halsted St.

Here is an update on this community meeting regarding the proposal to open a new school, Be The Change Charter School, in Bridgeport. The charter team wants to locate their new school at the Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th St. They will recruit students from Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Armour Square, Bronzeville and Pilsen.

The NAC reported the results of their evaluation of the Be The Change charter proposal and found that the proposal:

  • lacked depth and detail in curriculum planning.
  • had little evidence of community involvement and outreach -- 85 surveys out of a possible 114,000 residents in the target area with most from Bridgeport residents, not parents and not representative of the CPS mandated target area.
  • had only two community partners with only one sponsor offering immediate assistance.
  • Community attendees asked questions of both the NAC members and of the charter school team. Many felt that their questions were not answered by the charter school team, plus their answers were not to the point. Since CPS did not release the written charter proposal before the community comment meeting, few attendees could find out the information they requested.

The majority of the attendees felt that opening a school in Bridgeport is wrong and a poor use of our tax dollars. The Bridgeport area schools have hundreds of available seats according to CPS. And with per-pupil budgets, a decline in enrollment could cause one of our neighborhood schools to close. The new CPS per-pupil budgeting system doles money out to individual schools based on their enrollment. A new school could also affect enrollment at our great parochial schools.

When CPS issued their request for proposal to open a new school, the purpose was to relieve overcrowding in "Priority Communities".  McKinley Park was identified as a Priority Community by CPS but most of their overcrowded elementary schools are west of Western Avenue -- schools at 3542 S. Washtenaw, 4747 S. Marshfield, 4747 S. Winchester, 4600 S. Hermitage , and 3625 S. Hoyne are overcrowded. A new school at 35th & Racine would not help these children.

We are asking you to call Alderman Balcer at 773-744-6663 and tell him we do not need or want a charter school in Bridgeport.  Tell him to go to the CPS Community Meeting on Charter School Proposals Monday, December 16, at CPS, 125 S. Clark, and speak against this proposed new school on our community's behalf.

We are asking you to contact the CPS Board of Education at 773-553-1900 or via  to tell them we do not need or want the Be The Change charter school in Bridgeport.

Other ways you can voice your opinion:
A Community Meeting hosted by CPS will be held at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark St., on Monday December 16.   If you want to speak, sign up begins at 4 p.m. and will conclude at 6:30 pm.  Bring a valid ID with you.  The meeting will begin at 4:30 pm and end at 9 pm. Nine charter proposals are on the agenda for that night.

On Tuesday, January 7, CPS will host a Hearing on each of the nine charter proposals at CPS headquarters.

Charter school design teams will make brief presentations.  CPS Office of New Schools will share the NAC recommendation as well as its own recommendation on whether the charter should be approved or not.

Then, the public is welcome to comment.  The procedure will probably be similar to the above.
A final decision on all nine proposals will be made by the Chicago Board of Education at their January 22 meeting at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th floor at 10:30 am. Registration to speak at this meeting will begin online at on Monday, January 13, at 8:00 am.

Something else to note.... CPS had already approved 10 other new charters to open in the Fall of 2014:

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