40 Terrible Decisions on School Actions

Today we delivered a report to the Board of Education listing our concerns for 40 proposed school actions. As we stated to the Board, the omission of certain schools on this list does not mean we support their closure but as a grassroots group these were the schools we were able to visit, attend hearings for, meet with parents at, or research. We did walkthroughs at 22 schools on the closing list and attended numerous community hearings over the past few months.

Altgeld/Wentworth – receiving school is Level 3 on Academic Probation. ISAT meet and exceed – 48% for science, 54% for reading.  How will adding  443 new students at this time help school get off probation?  

Bannker/Mays – Mays welcoming school is Level 3 on academic probation. Slated to take on 337 new students. Schools will no longer have space to use Title 1 funds for reduced class size. Will be at full capacity. Banneker has high rating from UofC 5 Essentials.

Canter/Harte/Ray- overcrowding for Harte, which is full at 91% efficient. Incomplete transition plans -- no plan for Shoesmith's current 6th-graders who usually go to Canter.   Quality schools -- strong program: myriad of special programming (algebra and more) that enriches and deepens the overall learning and growth of its students; safe and organized with a collaborative culture; provides an emotionally supportive space for children to learn.  Strong on the 5 Essentials survey -- ten times more likely to increase student learning than schools with lower ratings. Current scores above CPS averages; cohort scores show consistent growth. 

Chalmers – proposed turnaround. Received highest ratings from University of Chicago 5 Essentials in every category – ambitious instruction, leadership, supportive environment, engaged community making them 10x more likely to improve learning than average CPS school.

Clara Barton – proposed turnaround. Top rating from UofChicago 5 Essentials for teaching. Parents feel school is making great improvements. Growth in all ISAT areas from 2010 to 2012. Reading went from 47.4 to 56.7 in two years. Current partnerships with University of Chicago Urban Teaching Education Program and Illinois State University making great strides at the school.

Delano/Melody – over mile walk from some student’s homes. Major safety issues. Melody, proposed receiving school, is on academic probation and closing school, Delano, is not. Yet Delano students will be welcomed in their own school by another school with worse test scores that is on academic probation.

Dewey – proposed turnaround. Principal is new. Many parents feel he is making great improvements at the school and is doing his own turnaround. Parents really feel he’s doing great work and want him to have a chance to fulfill contract. Added: 70% of staff is new at Dewey as well. Many parents have called us regarding the excellent child-parent center that wouldn't stay in place with AUSL turnaround.

DuPrey/VonHumboldt - De Diego- VonH and Duprey currently co-locate, utilization numbers not accurate at all due to co-location. They are closing both schools but keeping the building open, mixing three school cultures between De Diego, Von H and DuPrey in two campuses 5 blocks apart. Admin will have to manage from a distance. If consolidated in one building, Diego will welcome 428 students and CPS says they have room for 333. This will lead to very high class size, loss of ancillary space for programs or both.  Diego is on probation and we question how they will fare with 428 students added to the mix.  Duprey is not on probation and is being welcomed by a school on probation.

Dumas/Wadsworth-  Welcoming school is Level 3 on academic probation. Scores – reading 52%, science 54%, sci 68. How will absorbing 331 more students help Wadsworth improve their academic standing? Also major safety issues. Walk for some students will be over a mile. Numerous gang lines in attendance boundary.

Ericson/Sumner - Ericson has no empty rooms. Has 2 science labs and 3 computer rooms and CPS claims one reason for closing is to have access to science labs and technology?  Ericson is a magnet school. Parents being sent to a neighborhood school in what they consider a very unsafe neighborhood. Ericson has a very involved and supportive parent community. Other magnet schools across the city that cap class size at 25 as Ericson has done are not being penalized for doing so by proposed closure. Ericson has a wait list and can take more students.

Garvey – no empty rooms, a/c in every room, science lab, great programs. School has been on probation for 7 months out of 39 years. Moving to a school that has history of being on probation for 10 years. Safety issues Gang lines Excellent school culture and focus on whole child.  ISAT scores are higher than receiving schools.

Earle/Goodlow- overcrowding and safety.  Welcoming school is Level 3 on Probation. 52% of kids meet or exceed in reading. Welcoming school needs real supports not another 378 students to take on while on probation. Goodlow is not truly underutilized. Consolidation will lead to 117% capacity.

Emmett/Key/Ellington – overcrowding. Mixing 3 school cultures.  Will go over 100% utilization. Title 1 funding for reduced class will not be able to be used.

Meet/Exceed Scores from 2010 to 2012

71.2/11.9    73.8/13.2    70.4/12.5
Emmet is the only school in Austin that had double digit exceeds for three years.  Emmet's utilization rate is 66%.  Emmet has a library, computer labs, and science lab.  The building is fitted for a roof top A/C unit. 

De Priest-receiving school
53.3/3.2    65.1/6.5    68.8/7.9

Key is a level 2 school not on probation.  Per the 2012 IL School Report card, Key had 100% contact with parents.  

Fermi/South Shore- currently co-located but new attendance boundaries have kids walking over a mile to another school Wadsworth. Unsafe route. Fermi has 27% special ed rate and not underutilized in it’s co-located space. South Shore is on academic probation and does not have administrative experience with special education as Fermi does. Future Fermi students (such as younger sibs of current Fermi students) will have to go to the Dumas location, which will be Wadsworth -- the attendance boundaries for Fermi, Wadsworth and Dumas are being combined.  

Henson/C Hughes- major safety issue and overcrowding. Multiple gang lines crossed, unsafe route, school cultures don’t mesh. Receiving school is on academic probation. CPS says they have room for 224 students and Henson has 252 students. Added after board meeting: Henson is a community school with excellent programs including a full-use health clinic. 

King/Jensen – safety issues. Very dangerous walk to school. Numerous gang lines. Only 3 empty rooms at King. VH1 donated music room. King has a bilingual population that is well supported and Jensen has no bilingual population or services. King has a supportive culture and involved parents.

Lafayette/Chopin-  Overcrowding and concerns for special education, as Lafayette  has highest number of students with autism in CPS.  Excellent program starting in PreK. Very unique. Moving to a school that has no experience with autism. One of best music programs in CPS and is inclusive of children with special needs.

Paderewski/Castellanos– Overcrowding Receiving schools at full capacity. 91%. Safety issues. Cermak is gang line and parents are not comfortable sending their kids to this area. Parents at Castellanos told us they have 30 kids per class now and there is no space for more students.

Paderewski/Cardenas – this school also does not have space.

Parkman/Sherwood – Overcrowding. Building will be at full capacity without counting 18% special education population from Parkman. Loss of programs and/or higher class sizes. llinois Eye Institute operates at closed Princeton school next door.  This eye clinic has offered free services to over 5,000 CPS students since it opened.  Parkman and old Princeton share a boiler.  What will happen to this eye clinic if Parkman closes?

Peabody/Otis – Overcrowding. Otis has 21% special education rate and 7 rooms with less than 15 students – autism and visually impaired programs. There are no empty rooms and increase of 266 students will lead to either class size of 33-36 or loss of many ancillary rooms. Dr. Meisels of the Erikson Institute recommends keeping Peabody open.

Stockton/Courtenay – overcrowding. Both schools have high special education populations at 30% and space formula does not take this into account School cultures very different.  Courtenay is technically closing and losing status as lottery school and wasn’t offered a hearing in round one.

Manierre/Jenner – major safety issues. Welcoming school is Level 3 on academic probation. Kids have had serious rivalry for years. Partnerships with US Dept of Education. and CME Group Foundation. Manierre has Ferguson parent center. Dr. Samuel Meisels of the Erikson Institute supports keeping school and open, noting Manierre made the most progress of all the CPS schools in a $6M longitudinal study.

May/Leland/Armstrong- CPS is having Leland take over all schools in May. May is a community school that serves Austin. Will lose programs. Armstrong and Leland both doing very well but Leland is a PrekK-3rd grade school that will be responsible for managing three school cultures in one building and their Level 1 status is based on one single 3rd grade classroom.

Armstrong increased its' composite ISAT score nearly 10 points from 2011 to 2012.  The Armstrong annex building has new labs and was renovated about 5-6 years ago.  The CAC proposed to house an alternative middle program for at-risk students at the Armstrong Annex.  

Marconi/Tilton- high ratings for Marconi for ambitious instruction and collaborative teachers from University of Chicago 5 Essentials. Safety issues. Multiple gang lines.

M. Jackson/Ft. Dearborn – welcoming school is Level 3 on probation. MJackson has very high special education population. Closing school has elevator for wheelchair bound kids, a/c, 2 computer labs, autism program. Welcoming school does not have a/c or elevator. M Jackson has new principal who is making improvements according to parents. Many community partnerships and programs. Access Living testified in opposition. M. Jackson is ADA accessible receiving school is not.

Mayo/Wells – Level 3 receiving school on academic probation. How will adding an additional 408 students help Wells get off academic probation?

Morgan/Ryder – Morgan has an elevator for wheelchair bound population. Ryder has no elevator. Morgan has a/c, Ryder  has no a/c. Dangerous walk, over a mile for some students with no transportation being offered. Ryder is on academic probation. How will taking on 236 new students including a high special education population with no additional case managers or supports help them? Students at Morgan w/ IEPS perform better than Ryder (26% vs. 18%). Chicago Park District in Morgan providing wraparound services.Morgan is safe and nurturing school. Access Living testified in opposition.

Overton/Mollison –  major overcrowding. receiving school is Level 3 on probation. CPS states Mollison has room for 303 students and Overton has 431 students. How will overcrowding, and 431 additional students help Mollison move off probation?

Owens/Gompers-  Owens – keeping building open, managing two buildings from one campus while receiving school is on academic probation.

Ross/Dulles- overcrowding. Consolidation will go above 100% utilized. Reduced class size used w/ Title 1 funds won’t be possible. Ross ISAT cohort from 3rd to 8th grade almost doubled. Major gains.

Ryerson/Ward – Overcrowding/loss of programs. was a level 1 school for many years and only Level 2 this year. No empty rooms. Excellent community partnerships – health clinic, fitness center.  Library donated by Target. Parents very engaged. Safety issues. Will lose space for many programs if consolidated with Ward or have very high class sizes. Will go over 100% utilized. CPS says they have space for 291 students (at 30 kids per room) and Ward has 398 students.   

Stockton/Courtenay – overcrowding. Both schools have high special education populations at 30% and space formula does not take this into account School cultures very different.  Courtenay is technically closing and losing status as lottery school and wasn’t offered a hearing in round one.

Trumbull/Chappell, McPherson, McCutcheon -37% special education population. 1 empty room in building which is being turned into a teacher’s lounge. Excellent special ed program. Utilizaton rate completely off.  Kids being split up into three different receiving schools because none can hold total population of Trumbull. McCutcheon not higher performing for special ed. 

Songhai/Curtis – safety issues, receiving school on probation. Curtis may be a “Level 2” but it is on probation with reading scores at 54%.   Songhai has many community partnerships that they have worked hard to secure. Kids at these two schools have a long-standing rivalry.

Yale/Harvard – Overcrowding and welcoming school is Level 3 on Probation. Safety issues. Over a mile walk for some students. Loss of programming, Yale has 23% special education and building will be at full capacity without incorporating high special education rate. Expect class size to rise to above 30 or lose most ancillary rooms.

West Pullman/Haley –major safety issues. Students not being provided busing. Parents afraid to walk to that area currently. Very serious gang lines in this area.

Woods/Bass – welcoming school is on academic probation despite being “Level 2”. Will taking on an additional 371 students help them?