Public hearing on school actions set for Thursday

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Members of the Illinois General Assembly’s Educational Facilities Task Force will hold a hearing Dec. 1 to examine whether Chicago Public Schools is providing the public with true transparency and fairness in its school actions decisions, as required by a state law enacted earlier this year, says state Rep. Cythnia Soto (D-Chicago).

Soto’s announcement comes on the same day that CPS released a list of 20 schools that face major changes next school year. About 7,800 students could be affected by schools that will be closed, phased-out, co-located or overhauled, a process called a “turnaround.”

In Austin, CPS is proposing co-locating ACT (KIPP) charter school within Henry H. Nash Elementary School, 4837 W. Erie St., which was determined to be under-enrolled and has the capacity to hold additional students.

While CPS officials said the proposed actions will provide chronically under-performing schools with access to higher-quality school options, the Educational Facilities Task Force has concerns about how the schools were selected.

“The task force is gravely concerned that CPS has ignored the public feedback on its Draft School Action Guidelines, and is not giving the public any clear idea as to why it chose this list of schools for school actions, and certainly not for why certain schools were picked for ‘turn-arounds,'” Soto, co-chair of the task force, said in a statement.

“The reforms passed into law this year must be respected and were supposed to create some ground rules for school actions that assure the public that CPS isn’t acting arbitrarily,” said Cecile Carroll of Blocks Together, a Humboldt Park community-based organization and a task force member.

“I was shocked to learn that CPS has no intention of revising or even clarifying its criteria, even though the law requires public input. This situation must be addressed – immediately,” Carroll said.

The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. LaSalle St. in Room C-600 (6th floor committee hearing room). The task force will also take public testimony at its meeting.





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