Raise Your Hand speaks at the June 2017 Unelected Board of Ed meeting

Public comment statements from Raise Your Hand at the June 28, 2017, unelected Board of Education meeting.

Statement from Joy Clendenning, RYH Board Member

A 2011 state law requires CPS to provide plans for capital spending and a 10 year facilities master plan. This law also requires CPS to publish space utilization of all school buildings by December 31st of each year. CPS is out of compliance with this 2011 law: CPS is neither adhering to their 10 year plan (the Educational Facilities Master Plan) nor have they updated the space utilization data on their website since 2015. Jimm Dispensa told Raise Your Hand that the data would be on the website last month but it’s still not there.

Many capital projects that CPS announces are nowhere to be found in the 10 year plan. For example the new South Loop Elementary building and the potential closing of National Teachers Academy. And now, parents at these schools are being pitted against one another.

Where is the long-term, thoughtful planning that supports what’s already happened in the South Loop and what is now being proposed? Why would CPS decide to close a high-performing, majority African-American school with over 700 kids? If the South Loop needs a neighborhood high school, why does it need to be at the expense of the NTA school community? Why did CPS spend over $100 million on a selective enrollment high school in this area just a few years ago, and not use this TIF money for a neighborhood high school?

CPS does a major disservice to communities when they don’t engage them and follow a plan that distributes resources across the city to address demographic shifts fairly, equitably and with minimal disruption to existing schools. A series of ad hoc decisions based on shoring up votes for the next municipal election cycle is not a plan.

Capital expenditures of public dollars for a public school system should be transparently based on a plan that has been transparently created with the input and oversight of the public.

The current state of how capital plans are made is no way to run any kind of a system, let alone a school system. All students deserve well-resourced, well-maintained, clean, healthy, comfortable school buildings. And all communities deserve stable, well-resourced schools.

And any facilities planning should begin taking care of and resourcing the buildings and school communities we already have.


Statement from Marguerite Baran

Good morning. My name is Marguerite Baran, I am an elected parent representative on the Hitch Elementary Local School Council.  I’m here today to give praise to our local school engineer, Pat Kelly. 

You see, in the two weeks before school ended – which I think we all agree are somehow the LONGEST two weeks of the year, the air conditioning control panel in our building broke.  We are privileged to have air conditioning in our school, but when it breaks there is no Plan B readily available.

Answers about our dilemma were that only one vendor is able to fix the AC,  no other vendor could fix the issue, and similarly the part needed was only procurable from one vendor, and could take a couple of weeks.

Without support from Victor Birriel, or  Michael Torres,– Pat recognized the urgency of our problem – he understood why Pre-K students should not spend their time in an 85 degree classroom – and he worked tirelessly to help us while also servicing the other schools he is assigned to.  Mr. Kelly found a solution to solve the issue so that the school year could end in a comfortable learning environment.

In addition to praising Mr. Kelly’s work, I have a question for the Board and Mr. Claypool – since you approve these vendor contracts - what type of service do you expect from these contracts?  I think Mr. Kelly is who we want taking care of our kids, not a contract service who feels two weeks in sweltering stuffy classrooms is acceptable.  How will this vendor be held accountable, and how do you even find out about this vendor’s performance?