The co-location and boundary criteria in the Draft Guidelines for School Actions for the 2014-15 school year are inadequate. First, the CPS Space Utilization Standardsare the sole basis for determining a facility’s enrollment capacity. As Raise Your Hand testified repeatedly during the 2012-13 school year, the CPS Space Utilization Standards use a flawed formula and are educationally unsound.
The maximum efficient level is equal to 36 students per classroom, a level far beyond the upper limit on recommended class sizes. The formula assumes that all schools have the same ratio of ancillary classrooms to homerooms, regardless of the actual number of rooms used by outside agencies, special education, or other school programs. For example, a school sharing space with Chicago Park District, teaching many special education students, or offering specialized academic programs will appear underutilized under CPS standards, when in fact the school is at capacity. The formula also does not account for the actual size of the classrooms in a building, which often vary by over 400 sq. feet. The problem is that CPS does not survey the actual use of rooms when deciding whether a school is under-used or over-crowded.
Second, in co-location criteria, it is unclear what the criteria are for prioritizing the schools that will be co-located. Will the most inefficient ones be the top priority? The “other information” is too vague to serve as criteria. For example, how is “school leadership” a criterion? What about the school leadership would matter?
Third, other relevant factors are absent: the proximity of the current schools to the shared facility, the ease of transportation between the old and new locations, and the compatibility of extra-curricular programming between the schools. These should be criteria for deciding whether to co-locate the schools, but they are not included. Moreover, there are no criteria regarding the sustainability of the co-location or a cost-benefit analysis of co-location versus alternatives, like new construction.
Fourth, there is no connection between these criteria and the Educational Facilities Master Plan. The 10 Year Master Plan should be setting co-location criteria.
It is very problematic if consideration of co-locations and reassignment boundary changes use the current CPS Space Utilization Standards as a baseline. The formula needs to be changed to align with accepted educationally sound best practices on calculations of space utilization in schools. In the proposed Draft Guidelines, this flawed formula for Space Utilization Standards will be used to determine the “ideal” capacity of a school and thus to determine whether that school has room for another school to be co-located in its building. This flawed formula would also be used to determine if attendance boundaries will be re-drawn to relieve overcrowding at one school and increase the number of students at another.
As long as criteria and decisions are based on the current Space Utilization formula CPS is not making sound educational decisions for buildings and the children within.
You can provide feedback to CPS about these Draft Guidelines until October 22. Should you decide to submit comments to CPS, the IL General Assembly’s Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force invites you to also send them to the Task Force at:firstname.lastname@example.org
The CPS survey includes the following questions (in bold.) We’ve included RYH’s submitted responses (in italics):
Are you the parent or guardian of a CPS student, an LSC member, or a concerned citizen? *
What school(s) do you represent? *
What elements in the 2014-15 Revised Draft Guidelines would you change? *
The Space Utilization Standard and accompanying formula; also remove co-locations which are generally a bad idea; remove reassignment boundary changes because the timeline is too compressed and it is disruptive to move children from one school to another – this should only be done for students entering the school in the future and only with an inclusive process with the communities affected.
What elements in the 2014-15 Revised Draft Guidelines would you NOT change?* 1st paragraph of the preamble is fine. Part IV re-states the state law and school code and is fine.
What would you like to see added to the 2014-15 Revised Draft Guidelines? *
That there will be no further school actions until an educationally sound comprehensive 10-year Facilities Master Plan is developed. That such plan will include an inclusive transparent process for communities to be involved in any future decisions about their schools.
What are the highest priority programs or investments for your school?
RYH would not answer this question because it does not trust how CPS might use the answer.
How can CPS best account for the needs of learners with diverse backgrounds or special needs in the 2013-14 Draft Guidelines?
Consult with advocacy groups such as Access Living and Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Please share any additional comments you have about the Revised Draft Guidelines.
This is an exercise in futility because the space utilization standard is so flawed and there is not a good 10-year plan for our district.
OPTIONAL: Please leave your name and contact information.