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CPS chief promises more magnet, all-day kindergarten programs

Updated: November 2, 2011 12:43AM

With money freed up in part from cuts in the central office, the Chicago Public Schools is investing an additional $20 million in the priority areas of all-day kindergarten and magnet programming, according to new Schools Chief Jean-Claude Brizard.

Announced Wednesday at a Chicago Board of Education meeting, the magnet schools expansion represents a $5 million investment to reach an additional 2,300 students at both new and current magnet schools, Brizard said.

And the district’s all-day kindergarten programs will nearly double this year through a $15 million investment that will target an additional 6,000 students at 100 elementary schools citywide — primarily those currently offering half-day programs, the CEO said.

The funding comes partially from $75 million in cuts to the central office he has pledged in the face of the district’s $712 million budget deficit, Brizard said.

“We will continue to cut areas that do not impact the classroom in order to reinvest those dollars in our students during these difficult fiscal times,” the schools chief said.

“This kindergarten expansion is a critical investment that will have a big impact on the future academic performance of our students, and ultimately their long-term success in school.”

The investment will bring to 230 the total number of district-funded, full-day kindergarten programs this year, up from 131 last year. Priority will be given to schools that are located in low-income communities where children are most at-risk for falling behind and that have been unable to fund full-day programs on their own, Brizard said.

The majority of the funds for the magnet expansion will provide start-up monies for five new schools and programs:

◆ South Shore International College Prep High School — will offer three separate tracks to meet a wide range of student needs, including an International Baccalaureate and a Career and Technical Education program

◆ Bouchet International Academy: IB Primary Years Programme and Middle Years Programme — part of the creation of an International Baccalaureate continuum between Bouchet and South Shore College Prep.

◆ Lane Tech Academic Center — brings a second academic center to the North Side, which currently has only one of the centers, out of six citywide.

◆ Senn Fine and Performing Arts Program — will allow students to take classes in the arts foundations, collaborative practices in the arts, research and portfolio development, and studio, for all four years.

◆ STEM Magnet Academy — the first of its kind in CPS, it will weave together the various science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, providing inquiry- and problem-based learning activities for students.

The remainder of the funding will support new grade levels in magnet schools or programs opened within the last five years, including the Engineering Magnet Track at Harlan High School, LaSalle II Magnet School, and Skinner North Classical School.

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