Chicago Board Removes Charter School Expansions from Agenda


The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board recently took the proposed expansion of three charter schools already in existence in the city off of the agenda.

The board was met with much opposition to the suggested expansion of the Dulles, Prologue and Noble charter schools, which caused them to take the proposals off of the agenda.  Board President David Vitale said additional study was required on the subject.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) protested the expansion outside of the CPS headquarters, writes Patrick Elwood for WGNTV.

While the proposals have been pulled from the current agenda, there is no word as to whether they will be revived.

Officials for the Noble charter school said they would continue to work toward finding a permanent home for the school in order to better serve their students, who they say are 90% minorities and come from 45 different zip codes.  They would like to see their students be able to learn in a permanent location.

“Today’s deferment doesn’t change the fact that our students and their families deserve a permanent home, a campus in which they can learn and grow,” said Constance Jones Brewer, Noble’s chief external affairs officer.

Meanwhile, opponents argue that the move could cause the school to experience an enrollment of over 900 students.  Such growth would create a problem for turnaround efforts at other schools in the area by taking away their students and money, reports Greg Hinz for Chicago Business.

The board did approve other charter school measures, including a proposal by charter operator Northwestern University Settlement Association to place a middle school in a building that previously housed Peabody Elementary.  The property had been sold to a private developer last year by CPS after which the association bought a small portion.

However, Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey argues that allowing the school to operate in the building breaks a promise previously made by district chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett to not allow charters to make use of buildings that previously housed schools that closed in 2013.  Byrd-Bennett is currently on leave due to a federal investigation over a $20.5 million no-bid contract, writes Juan Perez Jr. for The Chicago Tribune.

“To be clear, this is not a promise that CEO Byrd-Bennett made out of the kindness of her heart, rather a recognition of the fact that it is absurd to close schools to save money, while simultaneously opening new schools in … buildings which were recently vacated,” Sharkey said.

A spokesman for the district said the commitment made by Byrd-Bennett is being followed, but that each community needs to voice their own opinion concerning how best to use the buildings of each school that has closed.  “If a community determines that a charter school is a desirable option, CPS will consider that option,” spokesman Bill McCaffrey said last week.