These remarks were prepared for a community meeting on the closing and consolidation of National Teachers Academy on July 10, 2017. (Speaker sign up ended 30 minutes before the start of the meeting.)
This Illinois law from 2011 (hold up print-out of PA 097-0474) requires CPS provide plans for capital spending and a 10-year facilities master plan. This law was passed because in the aughts when CPS started increasing the number of school closings, co-locations, and turn-arounds with no notice let alone community input, people organized and got their legislators to act. Here we are six years later debating a school action that is nowhere to be found in the current 10-year plan that CPS is supposed to adhere to.
This plan should drive all decisions about capital spending for new schools, annexes, etc. and the development of the plan should engage communities in long-term planning for quality public education for their children.
We are here again tonight, reminding CPS of the legal requirement to have a plan and to point out the opportunity these active parents are offering you — to engage in collaborative planning.
Raise Your Hand stands in support of the public school parents here in the “Near South” community who want to be at the table for a comprehensive planning process for public education for their children.
Raise Your Hand wonders how much of the Educational Facilities Master Plan (required by law) is being used in the long-term planning for South Loop Elementary School, National Teachers Academy, and a potential new neighborhood high school for South Loop and Chinatown. CPS should be using the Educational Facilities Master Plan process as a way to engage with this community and with communities across Chicago to determine true facilities needs AND to develop an actual, honest, long term, overarching facilities plan that would drive capital spending. There needs to be a transparent, equitable process for determining educational facilities needs and capital spending in CPS. The situation here in the South Loop is yet another example of this need.
Raise Your Hand stands with public school parents who are ready to work together to comprehensively plan for quality public schools for all children.
One final note: CPS is out of compliance with state law because they are required to publish space utilization data by December 31st of each year. The last posting was in December 2015. We FOIA’d it and were told the 2016-17 file is currently being composed and will be uploaded when it is ready.