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CPS announces charter school plans

Updated: January 15, 2014 6:14AM



The Chicago Public Schools on Friday announced nine charter school operators want to open or expand a total of 21 charter schools over the next two years.

Some of neighborhoods that may see these charters include Belmont Cragin, Chatham, McKinley Park/Bridgeport, Austin and South Shore, said Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

But CPS has determined six areas throughout the city are overcrowded and is prioritizing proposals in those communities. Those areas include Ashburn, Belmont Cragin, Chicago Lawn, McKinley Park , Midway and Reed Dunning.

The providers that submitted proposals are:

- Asian Human Services Passages

- Be the Change

- Chicago Education Partnership

- Concept Schools – Horizon Science Academies

- Connected Futures Academy

- Curtis-Sharif STEM Academy

- Great Lakes Academy

- Intrinsic Schools

- Noble Network of Charter Schools

The new proposals include high school and grade schools. There’s also at least one alternative high school, according to the proposals.

CPS received 14 proposals, though all didn’t finalize them. That included the beleaguered United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), which withdrew from the process, according to a CPS spokesman.

“I encourage all of our stakeholders to take the time to review the charter proposals and voice their opinions at upcoming public hearings, as these recommendations will help drive our decision making around which schools make the best fit for the district and our families,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.

CPS officials will review the proposals and make recommendations to the Board of Education, which has been criticized for closing dozens of neighborhood schools. The board will vote on the proposals in January.

In addition to the new proposals, the board has already approved 10 charter schools that could open as soon as next fall, though Broy said he doesn’t expect them all to be ready to open for the next school year.

Meanwhile, while some of the new proposals were specific, others were not.

Intrinsic simply wrote in its proposal that it wants to locate on the Northwest Side but it hasn’t identified a building yet.

Noble, on the other hand, said it wants to open a campus at 5357 West Grand in Belmont Cragin. That’s down the street from Prosser Career Academy High School.

Timothy Meegan, a CPS high school teacher and a member of the community group created by the district to advise on the proposals on the Northwest Side, said among his concerns is that the charter high school will suck students away from Prosser and other community high schools.

“With student based budgeting that becomes a real problem,” he said. “Every student that you lose costs you money.”

But Broy doesn’t buy that.

“If a student likes Prosser and doesn’t like Noble, then Noble won’t enroll [the] student,” he said.

Charters are about choice, Broy said.

“I think we can certainly invest in neighborhood schools while we expand high quality charter schools,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Teachers Union spokesman said the union doesn’t believe more charters are needed.

A community meeting is scheduled Monday evening at CPS’ headquarters, 125 S. Clark.

Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @schlikerman



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