Recap of SW Side 10/23 CPS Community Engagement Forum

Thanks to CPS parent Jennie Biggs for attending this meeting and taking these detailed notes. This was a by-invite only meeting and many parents have asked for transparency about what is happening at these meetings, of which CPS says feedback will be considered for 10 year-planning and decisions about school actions. RYH attended a N/NW side meeting 10/24 and also a South-side meeting 10/25. More info to come.

Paperwork Received:Packet 1: Agenda; Ground Rules; Participant RulesPacket 2: Space Utilization Standards; CPS Performance Policy Overview; Summary ofSB 630 (School Action and Facility Master Planning)Packet 3: Worksheets11 or so round tables with a computer on each.Many people dressed professionally- lots of CPS staffers and/or consultants?Recognized some CPS Staff from PAC Collaborative Meetings & BOE Meetings (FACE)At my table: Me, a fellow parent & LSC member from my community, a parent fromArcher Heights who was accompanied by IL Stand director, someone from a non profit &a FACE person. We never really introduced ourselves nor were given the time to do so.We arrived at 6 so missed the dinner portion but all of us at the table arrived about the same time.


Phil Hampton introduces the SW Leadership Team: Dr. Saffold (Chief of El Schools, Rock Island Network), Alex Fralen? (Deputy Chief, RI Network) and Harrison Peters (Chief of HS, Far South Side Network)

The Facilitator for the evening is Hubert Morgan from Stanhope Consulting. He will be gathering feedback. Throughout the night he said we'd each be getting a report on the night's findings... as long as we gave an email address when we signed in.

We were given key pads so we could “vote” on various questions. First, they took demographic data from the audience. They would put a question up such as “Male or Female?” You'd press 1 on your key pad for Male, 2 for Female. They would give 30 seconds or so, then the data collected would show up on the screen as a bar graph with a corresponding percentage of the voters. I wrote down some of the demographic data

(I mostly recorded the highest percentage for each question). Our forum contained:

50% Males, 50% Females

59% Graduate degrees or higher

29% Earned $100,000 or more annually

Stakeholders in attendance: 40% CPS Staff; 19% Community Based Organization; 26% Parents


Elizabeth Kirby (Chief of HS, SW Network):

Need your voice tonight. What does your community need? What are the community resources? What does CPS need to know so they can make the best decisions for students?

The first pre survey question is projected on screen. Someone points out that there is a lot of CPS Staff in the room, won't this skew the data? Hubert explains that they can “cross tabulate with CPS Staff responses” and a report will be shared with each of us when the meeting is over.

Pre Survey Questions (with the most popular response):

What is your most serious concern with your local schools? 51% Academic Performance

How knowledgeable are you about Performance Standards? 52% Somewhat


What percentage of schools on the SW side are Level 1? 77% 0 – 25%

(The correct answer is 28% of SW side schools are labeled Level 1.)

*** Side Note: They never defined or explained “SW side schools”. I'm sure it must be

certain Networks but that was never explained.***

PRESENTATION #2: CPS Challenges to reaching the Vision- Current State & How

We are Addressing the Challenge

1) Budget- 1 billion dollar deficit; emptied reserves

1) Budget- 1 billion dollar deficit; emptied reserves

2) Utilization- Can serve 500,000; about 400,000 enrolled; Over 140 schools are less

than 50% utilized; 75 schools overcrowded

3) School Performance- about 123,000 students are in low performing seats; Avg ACT =

17; Current graduation rate is 60%

4) Learning Environment- Lack of AC, playgrounds, up to date mech systems; 50+buildings need major work

On SW side, out of 82 Total Schools:

28% are Level 1 (In CPS, it's 26%)

45% are Level 2 (In CPS, it's 39%)

27% are Level 3 (In CPS, it's 35%)

Space Utilization on SW Side:

28% Overcrowded (In CPS, it's 13%)

44% Efficient (In CPS, it's 37%)

28% Underused (In CPS, it's 50%)

In order to address these challenges, CPS must...

Partner with community to understand the challenges

Make difficult decisions for high quality options

Transition supports

Academic growth

Keypad Polling Exercise

How can we minimize the impact of change as we seek higher quality education?

*** Before we answered, a man called this a “skewed question” b/c he did not like any of these answers. He thought there would be more open ended questions & not these closed questions that lead us to believe decisions have already been made.***

These were the answers to choose from as well as the audience % response:

Maintain adults (Keep students with the same adults after a school “action”) 24%

Maintain building (School “action” involves keeping students in building) 31%

Provide transition to a higher performing school nearby 45%

29 people at forum voted on this question.

Discussion #1

The 3 answer choices above are split up among the tables for small group (round table) discussions. My table discussed the 3rd option about transitioning to high quality schools. Here's how it went:

FACE person at computer explained he was the facilitator & he would help us get to a unified voice. My table wound up being relatively quiet, so I made a lot of comments.

Here's a summary of our discussion (this is from memory as I have no notes): I asked what is the vision of CPS because these choices and these “actions” could not possibly support a vision of a public school system. Public schools are anchors in communities and “school actions” crumble the foundation of communities and a public school system. I think the “school actions” should be fully funding & resourcing all schools and, especially, the struggling ones, labeled Level 3 by CPS. FACE person took notes and seemed interested in my comments.

Person at table (from a non profit, I think I heard her say this to the FACE person) said,

“But these actions are coming so what can be done to help kids transition to a better school?” (Later I looked at the “Participant Roles” handout & I guess I missed this instruction” “To be future seeking and not past-bound or blame-seeking”) I said the key word in the answer choice was transition & that should get some serious planning & consideration. We talked about safety issues for students as they traveled from home to the new school as well as safety during the day at school. I suggested intensive team building with students and teachers in the school for the first week and beyond. Someone brought up the importance of supports for academic achievement.

Then we were asked to come up with a list of 3 priorities. Our group came up with:

1) Safety

2) Academics due to moving from “low performing” to “high performing” school

3) Class Size (We were stuck on what should be #3 so I brought it up.) Discussion about “ideal” class size. I said that I'd prefer much lower than 24 or under but I'll throw 24 & under out as a possible class size. Stand person said that it depends on the age of student. He (as well as others at the table) felt that was a fine class size for the younger crowd. In high school, he was in classes of 35 so older kids could have bigger class sizes. I explained that I had taught high school and felt 35 was way too many students in a class. 24 & under was appropriate for this age as well as the younger kids, IMO. FACE person worked to get a compromise at 23 students for a class size.

At this point, a person from some of the tables got up to present their table's discussion. I was able to speak for our table. I relayed much of our discussion as well as oursummary: Transition for safety, academic support, and community building.

Keypad Polling Exercise

What is the top priority for schools in your area?

I don't have any more notes on this but I believe there were 9 answer choices. We could only pick 1. One gentleman pointed out that he'd prefer to be able to pick a few. Another table wanted a reword on the last answer choice. Some of the possible answer choices included: safety, academic performance, etc. 

Presentation #3: CPS School Action Guidelines & CPS Performance Policy

Adam Anderson- Officer of Portfolio, Planning & Strategy

Tonight is Step 1 in engagement process. Develop a long term vision over the next 10years in partnership with you for higher quality education. By law, for school actions, we need to release Guidelines by Nov 1, list of possible actions by Dec 1, then 2 community meetings and 1 public hearing.

1) Discussed the CPS Performance Policy Overview. (You can find a power point here:

Received this link a couple of weeks ago from a Raise Your Hand mom. They did not use this Power Point to explain.

Use this link to find the Performance Policy results. Link from same RYH mom.)

2) Discussed the Space Utilization & Facility Performance Standards

Had to determine the ideal capacity of the schooling facility.

Standards for overcrowding & underutilization.

Minimal & optimal standards for physical condition within a facility.

Find more info here:

AND here:


3) Long term planning: 10 year Education Facility Master Plan (Education Vision; Priorities; Where are we in our vision? How can we get to our vision?)

Capital Needs review process and 1 and 5 year capital plans (He said these 1 & 5 year

plans are published)

Discussion #2:

The exercise for the next 15 minutes at your table should focus on: read the handouts in your folder, discussing for understanding, and make a determination if further clarification is needed. What questions do you still have that you would like to ask about:

1. Space Utilization Standards

2. CPS Performance Policy

On Performance Policy, I brought up: Is it fair to use AP Enrollment & AP Success as a measure for high schools? Does every CPS high school offer AP classes? On Space Untilization: I wondered how many schools they actually visited before determining the formula used? Another person at my table asked how do we right size overcrowded and underutilized schools?

Due to time (it was late so they combined the next Discussion items in with te first 2 above), our table also discussed What can you add to better inform the criteria to consider when making decisions? My response: How do we evaluate if these “actions” are working? Where are the checks & balance of CPS's process? It came down to this question from our table: Will there be oversight & evaluation on the process and it's results?

I think we discussed this Discussion item, too: What can you add to better inform the transition supports to provide to students impacted by the decision? Our table went back to our earlier discussion & said team or community building.

Key pad polling exercise

***By now, 20 people were voting. A few had left (it was already past 8:30 at this point)

& there were many CPS staff who weren't voting.***

At this point, the FACE person from each table brought their table's questions & responses to the front. Then we had another key pad polling exercise. Our collected questions on the Space Utilization Standards were posted & we got to vote on which one would be answered tonight. (We were told that when we received a report on tonight, it would include answers to all the collected questions.) The question that won was How do we right size our schools?

Response: Clusters of overcrowded schools; we can't combine overcrowded & underutilized; trying to get away from mobile units; looking at building new buildings or adding additions but this will take money. There are 140 schools in the city that are under ½ full.

Vote on questions regarding CPS Performance Policy. Question that won was why aren't charters held to the same standards?

Response: All schools are measured with the performance policy; the difference is in how we hold them accountable; If a charter is low perfoming it can't be held to the same process due to the charter contract with CPS; many charters have 5 year contract w/

CPS; At 5 years, CPS can not renew if low performing OR can give them a shorter termcontract

More key pad polling...

What should we think about? (Word for word from my notes.) I think the general gist of the question was something like what should CPS's priority be when determining which schools will be affected by school actions?

Possible answer choices:

Academic Performance *** this was the winner

Enrollment & Space Utilization

Safety & Security

School Leadership, Culture & Climate

Student Population & programming

History of Involvement in past school actions

How do we best support students through the process?

Access to high quality options

Academic and instructional support and programs

Additional safety and security resources

Social and emotional support for all students

Supports for students with disabilities and diverse learning backgrounds

Capital improvements to enhance learning environments

*** I don't have in my notes which polled highest & I can't remember (it was 9:00 by now

& I was tired). I think Access to high quality options was the winner