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Request by 32 aldermen for Public Hearings about school closings goes unanswered by Education Chair Latasha Thomas
No date set for October 3rd resolution signed by 32 Chicago Aldermen for public hearings about Chicago Public School closings. According to Latasha Thomas' office. Thomas is City Council's Education Chairman and 17th Ward Alderman, who did not sign the resolution, but whose job it is to set such meetings. Any information about the where and when of such meetings will be on the posting explained someone in Thomas' office. The question is: Will there be a posting?
While supposedly there are no school closing plans according to CPS public statements by CPS officials, the facts of the matter are that there are:
- more public school seats than students
- budget deficits have been added to by the new teacher contract
School closing meetings in the past often occur just before Board of Education votes. This time the aldermen are attempting to have dialogue before the deadlines.
"I think our communities need input into each and every closure," Fioretti said in the Chicago Tribune. "And if it's transparent, and we have an open dialogue, people will look on these closures with an understanding of what is happening. The way the board operates, they do things in a vacuum and tell the community later."
As stated in The Catalyst: "The call for hearings is the latest move signaling a backlash against City Hall’s tight control of the school system and the decisions made by the board and district. Another sign: Fioretti and other aldermen have joined in the chorus of voices calling for an elected School Board.
Even some state lawmakers are looking into revamping the way the power-brokers in CPS are chosen. La Shawn Ford, a West Side Democrat, plans to introduce a bill calling for a task force to study the idea of an elected board. He held a hearing this past week (last week in September) and will hold two more later in October.
Aldermen are concerned about school closings and frustrated with the way the school system is being run, says political analyst Dick Simpson. During the September teachers strike, news came out confirming what many observers already knew: CPS officials plan on closing as many as 120 schools over the next couple of years."
Sponsored by 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, a resolution to hold public hearings on CPS School Closings was signed by 32 of the 50 Chicago Aldermen."
In an effort to get more transparency, the resolution, signed by 32 aldermen, was filed with Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza on Oct. 3.
Sponsored by 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, the resolution was signed by four of six local alderman. They are:
- Alderman Joe Moreno 1
- Alderman Robert Fioretti 2
- Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. 27
- Alderman Scott Waguespack 32
The resolution reads:
- BE IT RESOLVED that, in order to accomplish the stated goal of all parties to create the world-class educational system Chicago's students deserve, the undersigned members of undersigned members of the City of Chicago City Council urge the Chairman of the Committee on Education and Childhood Development to immediately hold a series of public hearings inviting members of the Chicago Board of Education and the leadership team of CPS to address the following queries:
- Transparently describe the research, including any utilization formulas, performance procedures, and policies for making the currently considered 2012-2013 school facility decisions, including clear criteria for setting priorities with respect to school openings, school closings, school consolidations, school turnarounds, school phase-outs, and school boundary changes.
- Provide a list of all schools being considered for such actions.
- Describe the rational and reason of opening more charter and contract schools, as described in the CPS publication: "Call for Quality Schools", while we are in the midst of current plans to decrease the inventory of excess school buildings. Describe the projected financial savings of any such actions
- Explain the resulting impact on student attendance these policies will have.
- Pursuant to proposed state legislation (HB4487 - School Closings Moratorium), CPS shall comply with the intent and spirit of Public Act 097-0474. The Chicago Educational Facilities Taskforce (CEFTF), created by the Illinois General Assembly, found the final Guidelines for School Actions issued by CPS, in an attempt to comply with Public Act 097-0474, are out of compliance and lack transparency.
- CPS shall inform the Committee on Education and Child Development and members of the City of Chicago City Council on the progress of the complete compliance with Public Act 097-0474.