The cuts

May 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm 72 comments

A loyal reader suggested that I write something about the cuts that are happening at different schools and how each school seems to be affected differently.   CPS typically has a method behind their madness, so I can’t figure out why some schools seem to be facing fewer cuts than others.  Overall, the basic rules should apply:

Schools get money based on the number of kids
They get more money for lower income kids (roughly $700 per kid per year)
Magnet cluster schools get a position funded from a different pot that gives them at least 1 teacher in their subject matter (so a fine arts magnet cluster school gets a “free” art, music, or drama teacher (or 2.)
You need a certain number of kids to “earn” positions like a librarian, gym teacher etc.

I don’t think I’ve heard of any schools that claim to NOT be affected.  The principal where I’m on the LSC says the schools is “blessed” to not have to cut many positions (yes, the great Lord intervened into CPS matters!)   But what I can’t tell is whether the cuts that the principals are making reflect some behind-the-scenes decisions they’re making (ex: they have been wanting to can the music teacher all along, so now there’s a good excuse.)  Or if the decisions are made more centrally.  It seems like the budgets aren’t final, but some of these special teachers have already been told that they’re being eliminated.  Or perhaps they’re being told that if the money is found (somewhere, magically) that their positions will be reinstated.

All I know is that being in limbo is a crappy place for a principal and certain teachers to be hanging out.

If anyone has any insight, questions, or suspicions about how the cuts are being doled out, please share!

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Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

So 2nd round letters are supposedly going out today (Friday May 7) Now to keep filling up those slots… (and the usual ranting)

72 Comments Add your own

  • 1. SEN  |  May 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Our neighborhood school is where I was going to send my daughter for K. However I registered her today for the private school where she is now in PK. I did this because the K at the neighborhood school is saying 2 1/2 hour K. She currently goes 3 hours 5 days a week. She is a December birthday and is ready for full day or at least 4 hours a day, which they had last year. My neighbor also said that the neighborhood school sent a letter home saying there will be 37 kids in first grade class next year and seven teachers let go overall. My neighbor will also go private if they do this. To top it off they are also going to track E next year. So I would have two kids in CPS on two different schedules!!

  • 2. Christine  |  May 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

    What is Track E?

  • 3. klem  |  May 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Track E is where they have a shorter summer break and start school in August. They have a two or three week break in the fall and in the spring. Winter break may be a bit longer, not sure about that.

  • 4. Christine  |  May 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Is the track E confirmed?

  • 5. momof4  |  May 18, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Principals get permission from LSC’s to apply for track E schools and then they get notification in February if they are given track E status – so I would assume at this point it is confirmed.

  • 6. parent  |  May 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Track E some people love it some do not, many do not know what it is. You can look up the various school schedules on the CPS website.

    Students finish same day in June as other schools, they do go back in August. They have a two week break in October, three weeks for winter break rather than 2 and spring break is 2 weeks rather than 1. Honestly the breaks are spread out nicely for students and in my opinion would be great gor teachers too. Well placed breaks, less burn out. Just my opinion.

    Working parents will most likely not agree due to increased day care at various times throughout the year,

  • 7. klem  |  May 18, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I don’t think parents get a say in whether a school goes Track E or not. The teachers get to vote on it.

  • 8. RL Julia  |  May 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    At my school, who gets laid off is all about seniority and the union. Teachers who teach “specials” are not included in the equation somehow so there is more discrepancy there. This can be problematic as an older teacher is higher on the pay scale – in some instances, two older teachers cost the same amount as three newer teachers. While I think they are all wonderful if I had a say (which I don’t) I’d prefer to lay off one less teacher in most any scenario.

  • 9. SEN  |  May 18, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    As far as the cuts go. I did speak to a dad with a first grader at what would be our neighborhood school, and he said that at a meeting he attended, administration said they were going to do a class with first and second graders together. They would pull the higher performing first grader into class with some second graders. I don’t know how this works though, or if it helps class sizes stay smaller.

  • 10. parent  |  May 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Cuts are not even among the schools. Some schools class size is increasing, others losing a language, kinder half day some full day.

    Money for teaching positions comes from various sources. You have quota positions (based on number of students), teacher salaries can also be paid for using discretionary funding, and fundraising is another source of money. These vary from school to school. Some schools also have grant money and/or money from the office of academic enhancement to pay for additional teachers.

    Looks like neighborhood schools losing more, based on conversations with parents and teachers at various types of schools.

    So much money being spent on renovating schools. Understand need to maintian schools yet in this budget crisis some prioritizing needs to happen. There are schools that have improved over time and have not had the luxury of complete building renovations.

    Anyone know how much will be spent this summer renovating Pulaski school so it can serve the neighborhood kids? Also will it run as two schools for awhile? Two sets of administrators, security etc.

  • 11. Chicago Teacher  |  May 18, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    I don’t understand the cuts at all. I have heard anywhere from 12-25 cuts at various high schools. At my school (high school, south side) there has not been one announcement about cuts. The only “news” to report was a conversation a teacher had with an AP in which the AP said the budget required NO cuts to the school or programs. I just don’t get it. Right now, my class sizes are well below 28. I could write pages regarding how to cut expenditures at my school alone. Teachers are just walking around kind of in limbo…no one knows what to expect and, frankly, I think most people are basically waiting out the year expecting the axe to just fall.

  • 12. Mom of two  |  May 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Just found out that our neighborhood school is losing 10 of it’s 47.5 teaching staff! A fifth of all teachers, and we weren’t overstaffed to start. It’s overwhelming. That includes our music program which was really great, and several special ed and ESL teachers. Serious impact on all the kids when class sizes increase and ESL and special needs children don’t have extra help.

  • 13. question  |  May 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    @ mom of two With all of those cuts how many students will there be in each class? Sorry to hear that, it will have a serious impact!

    @Chicago teacher above Agreed! Teachers across the city could write novels about the waste they see daily!

  • 14. TMom  |  May 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Does anyone know whether their magnet schools is having full day kindergarten without asking parents to contribute? I called OAE and they said it’s likely a magnet may still have full day since they get additional funding and full-day was not automatically cut for these schools.

  • 15. Track E  |  May 19, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Track E is all decided by the principal. Out of courtesy the principal can ask the teachers, LSC and parents but ultimately it is all decided by the principal. I removed my son from our neighborhood school because the principal disregarded the objections of the staff and parents and went with the Track E schedule. Track E schools have to get approved by the CBOE and I haven’t seen it on the agenda for them to vote yet. Also, track E is designed to cheat teachers out of pension money. I don’t fully understand but if the teachers don’t work more than five days in a pay period then CBOE does not have to make contributions to the pension.

  • 16. anonymous  |  May 19, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I am saddened by the fact that neighborhood schools seem to be suffering the most when they serve the MOST children.

    It is a crime that CPS seems to care only about gifted children or a select few who do nothing more than win a lottery.

    I know schools have great discretion in where their funds go, but there should be SOME standards that should apply to all, like full-day kindergarten funding and class sizes.

    If a school can switch around its teachers or students creatively to create smaller class sizes, great. HOWEVER, I don’t understand how a magnet or SE can only accept 28 or so students in its Kindergarten classes to BEGIN with — especially when there are so many who want a slot.

    If a school can raise funds for full-day, great. I can’t argue with that. But, to see that magnets get extra FUNDING for full-day AND get to limit class size seems outrageous to me.

  • 17. RL Julia  |  May 19, 2010 at 11:56 am

    There was a good article in the New York Times a few days ago about their pre-school magnets for 4 and 5 year olds.
    The magnet in East Harlem is undersubscribed and because 63% of the kids are free/reduced lunch eligible it isn’t as pretty or well resourced as the magnets on the lower east side and upper west side who can more successfully fund raise.

    It was a microcosmic example of what happens to so many neighborhood schools in Chicago.

    The article mentions that magnet admission in NYC is completely based on one admission test scores. I can’t quite figure if that seems more or less fair to all the kids taking the test.

    Here’s the link to the article if anyone is interested.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/18/education/18tag.html

  • 18. klem  |  May 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    @#16: I am not sure why you think only neighborhood schools are facing cuts. Every school will have cuts–even magnets and gifteds. Many of the cuts are proportional so the larger schools will lose a greater number of teachers, but not a greater percentage. If your school has 800 to 1,000 students, then it may seem like you are getting hit harder. But that’s only because it is bigger, with more classrooms and more potential teaching positions to cut.

    I work with students on the west side of the city who go to schools with high levels of poverty. When asked, not one of my families has said they are cutting full-day K. Now that is either because 1) their school doesn’t have a budget or 2) they have so many low-income students that it will still get funded.

    I’d love to know your source of information about the magnet schools. Most of them aren’t getting to keep classes at 30 AND full-day K. It’s only those that have been successful at fund-raising who are going to get to do both.

  • 19. cuts not even  |  May 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    @18 There are schools keeping full kinder where the positions are not being paid with discretionary funding or fundraising monies. True schools in higher poverty areas will have more discretionary money and maybe that is how they are paying for full day kinder.

    Schools have their budgets and the deadline for the School Improvement Plans has already passed. Possibly you could go to a school and ask the Principal to see their budget and SIPAAA and then you can see for yourself where the funding comes from and how it is being spent. Then go to a magnet school/gifted/classical etc. and see if there are differences.

    Maybe someone here knows if these documents are available online so we can all read them. It seems all of this should be public information being public schools.

  • 20. Magnet Cluster Teacher  |  May 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I work for CPS and I know for a fact that Magnet Cluster Schools in neighborhood schools got cut, and the magnet schools got to keep their positions. Don’t for one second think that the cuts are even!

  • 21. wondering  |  May 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    @20 that is sooo true my dd got into a magnet cluster on the north side and they cut their KG to 1/2 day out of which 45 minutes is f——n lunch…………and they cut 3 KG teachers too this is absurd the city has millions of dollars to revamp fields and the city but not for education

  • 22. clarification  |  May 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Magnet cluster schools are different than magnet schools. Yes magnet cluster schools facing many of same cuts as neighborhood schools. Many magnet/gifted/classical not facing as many cuts. Cuts are not equitable!

    @21 Yes it is absurd to think in order to improve education entire playground and school has to be renovated. Look at some of the successful schools where costly building renovations did not happen.

    Time to get priorities in order. and realize education across this city is not equal. Unacceptable!

  • 23. TMom  |  May 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I know a magnet cluster school which is more than 60% low income and they cut full day K and anticipate 35 kids a class. Not sure how low income schools would fair better then schools in higher income neighborhoods under the current budget cuts. I called several magnet cluster schools in nice neighborhoods and they all are having full day K, but parents are funding it.

    Definitely Magnet/Gifted/Classical are given more funding from CPS than your neighborhood school. It stinks!

  • 24. Angry Dad  |  May 20, 2010 at 7:37 am

    CPS obsessed, you hit the nail on the head with your example.

    Our LSC is full of well-meaning people, BUT they trusted our principal implicitly to crunch the numbers and did not question the firing of our music teacher and consequently, our band and choir programs.

    They were given a budget that was fait accompli and they rubber-stamped it. For example, they were allegedly told by the principal that cutting the music program for the entire school would keep regular class sizes low. That’s how several LSC members publicly and privately defended their decision for a week. When finally asked about that in a public forum, the principal quietly said that was NOT true, the money comes from a different pot, etc. Some of the LSC members looked shocked at that revelation, like they had been fooled. Duh.

    The various items they claimed were on the chopping block that they “saved” could NOT be in the chopping block without risking funding for their Regional Gifted Center status (accelerated math, Latin, computers, etc.) or federal funding. Lots of horse-trading and BS went down on this budget. The only one who knows precisely what went on is the principal himself and he ain’t telling, of course.

    The LSC did not stop to think about HOW the choice was made and WHY the choice was made to get rid of our school’s award-winning music program. I think they learned a lesson this time, at the expense of the kids.

    It was painfully obvious to the 30+concerned parents at the subsequent LSC meeting that the music teacher was let go because of a long-term personal/professional situation between the principal and music teacher NOT because it was best for the students.

    Now, kids will be taught music in their regular classes. I’m sure some teachers will embrace it while others simply will flip on an Ipod and call it “instruction.” For a band program, parents will have to pay an exorbitant fee plus instrument rental from an outside firm. For chorus, a teacher has allegedly volunteered to do it for free. Whatever. Glad my kid is out of there soon.

    Principals across the city had tough choices to make during this budget cycle, for sure, but if our school is any indication, I would say some principals used this budget crunch to conveniently clean house.

    Teachers who disagree with the principal are vulnerable to firing, sanctions and general snubbing by colleagues. As a parent, his or her minions will make sure your life is challenging as your kid matriculates. Your little Tommy or Suzi will not get little perks or the benefit of the doubt in a judgment call situation anymore, like a playground scuffle. As hard as this is to believe, his little minions get to park their cars in the school parking lot, rather than the street like other parents and brag about it! Science fair projects? Your kid will become an also-ran, instead of a winner, since it is organized and judged by some of his favorites. Your kid needs a recommendation letter in 8th grade–“yeah, what have you done for me lately?” You want your younger kids in our coveted pre-k, have you ticked off the principal or not? The list goes on and on of little things that can happen to you or your kid if you do not toe the line and the good little perks that happen when you do.

    Thank goodness their term is over soon. However, I don’t expect it to get much better, as our LSC is viewed as the next step after years of dedication to the school’s PTO, where you were trained as one of the principal’s foot soldiers. Spouses glide in and out of the spots on both. It’s incestuous and crazy.

    Seriously, if you’re going to be on the LSC, you need to demand answers. You need to be able to stand up for what’s right, not simply what the principal thinks is right or what might happen to you if you speak your mind. You need to demand to have the budget in draft form to review well before the meeting in which you must vote on it! Commonsense would dictate that, right? Maybe commonsense is not as common as it used to be. It’s now self-preservation.

    I’m glad my kid is out of there soon. My neighbor’s kid is just starting there and my wife is itching to tell her how it REALLY works so she doesn’t cause waves for her kid, like we have for ours. After writing this, I think we should warn her, too. Stay low in the foxhole!!!

  • 25. klem  |  May 20, 2010 at 10:48 am

    All schools–whatever their status–will be funded at the 35 kids per class level. There will be no getting around that if it becomes official. Principals can shift things around to avoid that, but there is no getting around the fact that they have to make cuts somewhere else then.

    At our classical school–2 positions are on the line. One is the foreign language teacher that we get for being a GEAP school. Now that may not sound like much, but we will only have 180 students next year. Our neighborhood school, which has about 1000 students, is losing 10 teachers. Proportionally, our classical school is being hit harder.

    There is a magnet school on the west side of the city with about 600 students where the principal has said 13 teachers will have to be laid off. They had smaller classes and some specialized for ELL instruction that is being cut. So if you had classes under 30 this year, it will hurt even more to go up to 35.

    Full day kindergarten is not the only measure of whether a school is making cuts or not. There are lots of other places where staff is being reduced.

    Some schools aren’t making a big deal because they are hoping for a last minute deal from the legislature or a flurry of fundraising. An ass’t principal told me last week that this will all be fixed after the November election–though I am not sure how you can make changes midyear.

    In short, every school in the system is making cuts. And because most of the cuts are based on the 35 per room rule–no school will be exempted.

  • 26. Trick  |  May 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Well, feeling a bit better after visiting my neighborhood school’s open house last night. I was not accepted at any of the gifted/magnet schools. I believe this was a blessing in disguise. I was VERY impressed with my northwest side school. They didn’t seem to think that the full day kindergarten would be cut although they did say anything is possible, but they seemed very confident. They also offer a free breakfast before school for all students – regardless of their lunch status. I thought this was strange, but hey . . . And I was told they have recess everyday. Plus each day of the week they have a specialized class with a spcialized teacher – art, computer, library, gym and drama. I was very impressed with the well appointed, large classrooms and all classrooms have smart boards. So feeling a LOT less stressed about sending my child to the neighborhood school! Thanks for your help all.

  • 27. Hawthorne mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

    All schools across the city offer “universal breakfast”.

    In terms of the November election, that is a HUGE concern. This is why. If Quinn gets elected, taxes will go up. (which I support, but I know many folks don’t) If Brady is elected, massive cuts will happen to education and social services because he supports less spending and less government. This would mean lay offs and cuts to teachers and programs mid year. Yes, that can happen. Kids would get shuffled around to make 4 first grade rooms of 32, for example, into 3 first grades of 40-41 in November or December. And the loss of many support teachers on top of the cuts already happening. Imagine the disruption of instruction, friendships, etc, not to mention grumpy teachers!

    In my opinion, the legislators who have refused to produce a workable budget, with both a tax increase and needed cuts in order to balance a budget in tough time, are wusses. In my house, when we need more money, my husband or I work more and spend less. Why is is that our city, both regular citizens and legislators, doesn’t get this?

  • 28. klem  |  May 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    @27: While I agree the situation with the state legislature is deplorable, I think your worst case scenarios may not come to pass. If elected, Brady may want to make massive cuts, but he can’t do that on his own. The legislature has to approve them, and the legislature will probably remain Democratic. If Quinn is elected, I am not sure that taxes will increase as he wants them too. Again, the legislature has proven very difficult to work with. I agree with your conclusion, however, that our city and state leaders are not doing their job.

  • 29. cuts not even  |  May 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    @Klem There are schools that have quota positions as well as positions provided from the Office of Academic enhancement therefore there are schools that are not going to have 35 in a class, and since they were given additional positions above the quota they are also not losing other surrent programs.

    You state cuts are happening at all schools, many or most yes, all no. Since there are various sources of money for each school budget and schools have varying priorities on how it should be allocated it it is difficult actually impossible to compare them here. As you said full or half kinder is not only measure.

    Again does anyone know where we can look at individual school budgets and School Improvement Plans online? If there is a site someone please post it here. Having that information would allow individuals to see for themselves the inequalities with the cuts.

  • 30. Dad  |  May 20, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Illinois as a whole (and perhaps CPS, even more) has more administrators/teacher than most other states. Perhaps very aggressive cuts in administrative personnel/budgets can minimize the averse effects where the rubber meets the road (teachers and students).

  • 31. a dad  |  May 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Bell is trying to raise $160,000 by June 18th in order to save 3 classes of full day K (neighborhood program)

  • 32. Trick  |  May 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    @27 – It is false to say that if Brady is elected massive cuts will be made to education. Yes he does support LESS government – which is a good thing especially in this corrupt and broke city/state. It’s about working wisely with what you have and trimming WASTE. Brady does have a plan to reform education without raising taxes. He has talked about eliminating the State Board of Education and having more control at local levels. More money needs to go to the classroom instead of to educational administrative expenses.

    That’s the problem with Quinn and others like him. They always use education as an excuse to raise taxes. The real answer is reform and cutting waste! That’s why private/catholic schools can spend less per pupil and have 15 kids to one teacher You can keep throwing money at a problem, but they will just spend more.

  • 33. Paul  |  May 20, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    You can find each school’s SIPAAA and budget segment on the CPS Web site. When you go to find a school and look up a school, scroll down to the bottom. You’ll see pdf links to the SIPAAA and the school budget segment. Unfortunately, these data will always be one or two years old, so you won’t be able to get next year’s information to compare cuts across schools. To get the most up-to-date budget information, I believe you’d have to go to your school’s LSC meetings when they discuss the budget.

    As some have said before, each school’s budget situation will be different depending on their school population, level of low-income population, number of students, programs, class sizes, ability to raise funds, whether the school is projected to grow or shrink, the school’s priorities, etc.

  • 34. Preschool Mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    You can see the individual school budgets for 2010 (they are called School Segment Reports) on the CPS website. If you select the menu choice, “find a school,” and then type in an individual school’s name and click on it, scroll to the bottom of that school’s page and the report (along with some other ones) should be there.

  • 35. Preschool Mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Sorry, Paul- you beat me to it!

  • 36. 2ndtimearound  |  May 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    If ISBE is eliminated and more control is given at the local level, don’t you think that District 299 needs to be broken into many smaller districts and have Superintendents elected. I think that accountability would be better.

  • 37. thanks  |  May 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    @Paul thank you and thanks to following post too, will be looking up information on the website.

    Regardless of what happens with ISBE it would be a great idea to have Chicago broken into smaller districts. The system is much too huge to run efficiently. There is obvious waste at every level, ask any employee or parent who has spent time volunteering in a school.

  • 38. Hawthorne mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    @32, Yes, I agree with trimming waste for sure! But there are reasons why Catholic schools can educate kids for less money. First of all, they don’t pay their teachers a living wage. A first year teacher with a bachelor’s degree barely makes more than 20K a year with no retirement benefits. That is truly deplorable. You can make more as a nanny or other low wage jobs.
    Secondly, most Catholic schools offer nothing in terms of special education, bilingual education and ESL services. They don’t have a program to serve homeless kids. They don’t have to pay speech paths, OTs, PTs, psychologists and social workers. They don’t have to do IEP’s. There are a whole host of things that public schools are required to provide that Catholic schools do not have to. All those things add up for public schools.
    Definitely trim the waste, starting with the board who needs to stop printing paper paychecks! Everything should be digital by now. But until privates have to pay for every single thing that publics do, you can’t compare them.

  • 39. Trick  |  May 20, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Oh I bet if catholic and private schools had to provide all of the same benefits, they could still do it more efficiently. I was just giving one example. I think the costs is about half compared to public schools. Take the other half and provide these other services and there should be money left over! And I know my son’s teacher makes closer to 60k at a catholic school. Bottom line is, we can no longer afford the luxurious retirement benefits/pensions that are provided to government workers. WE ARE BROKE!!!! The auto industry went broke because it couldn’t afford the outrageous benefits either. I wish we could provide the benefits, but it’s a different day. They will have to save like all of us privately employed folks! WE need to save our schools and stand up for efficiency and quality. I think we are all on the same page there!

  • 40. Hawthorne mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    I have worked at Catholic schools. My pay was 18 K a year ten years ago. I just called my friend who has nearly ten years experience and a graduate degree and teaches in an archdiocesan school on the west side. Her pay is 32K a year. That is less than half what she’d make in CPS with that level of experience and education– without the pension . So unless you are talking about one of the stand alone catholic schools like SH or FXW (which charge much more for tuition than regular ones and do much more fundraising) , I guarantee the teacher is not making 60K .
    Pension issues aside, I can’t imagine anyone thinking that amount of pay (at nearly all catholic schools) is fair for that level of education, work and training. Plus, if we are talking about pensions, while I agree that concessions need to be made for all the reasons you stated above, then the government would have to start paying a nation’s worth of teachers social security (which we currently cannot and do not get). Talk about a budget crisis.

  • 41. Hawthorne mom  |  May 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    “For example, starting pay for teachers in the Chicago archdiocese is $20,350, while their public school counterparts often start at $32,000 or more, according to Dominican Sr. Georgia Luznicky, director of school personnel.”

    This came from the following site.
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_21_35/ai_54343109/

    fyi… CPS starting pay for a bachelor’s degree, year one in close to 40K a year. The 32K a year referred to is not CPS, though some suburbs start at that.

  • 42. Melissa  |  May 20, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Rally Tuesday May 25th at 4 PM at 125 S Clark st
    A MASS rally to protest cuts
    37 kids to a class
    no pre-k
    no full day kindergarden
    STAND UP! You are a tax payer, you are a parent and our children need us

    http://coreteachers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Save-our-schools-infographic3.pdf

  • 43. a hs parent  |  May 21, 2010 at 6:39 am

    AN EVENT ON MONDAY FOR STUDENTS TO SHOW THEY ARE MAD TOO!Il

    CPS students are organizing a Study-In on Monday, May 24th at Daley Plaza. The protest will occur after school, from 4 to 6 p.m. Students will sit at Daley Plaza and study, among other things, in order to show their commitment to education. Currently, at least 10 different Chicago public schools will represent themselves at the rally. They are looking to garner support from and spread the word to more students and schools. The Raise Your Hand Coalition will have a presence at this event.

    For more info: Facebook group CPS 2010 Study-In.

  • 44. LR  |  May 21, 2010 at 8:49 am

    #31 – My daughter is starting 1st grade at Bell next year. My son will likely join for K next year. I thought K was “half” day, but I remember the half day afternoon starts at like 10am. Are they just trying to prevent shortening the day? Theoretically, I could care less if there is half day K if other things remain unaffected (class size, extracurriculars). Would MUCH rather see the money go towards other things. K only affects one class of kids – cuts to other areas affect everyone. Just kind of irritated that there is effort to raise $160K and that’s where the school is choosing to put it. Wasn’t art on the chopping block? Why wouldn’t that be saved first?

    Hawthorne mom – ditto about Catholic school teachers. Literally, they make NOTHING. And don’t include Sacred Heart or any of those because they are not archdiocese, they are independent. I know at our current school, the teaching assistants start at $9 per hour ($18K per year). It hardly seems worth it, but I guess at least they don’t have to put up with CPS.

  • 45. Trick  |  May 21, 2010 at 9:34 am

    So it sounds like Catholic techers are underpaid – my son’s teacher has a Master’s Degree – she has been with the school for a long time. Maybe she does get more than the average. PLUS, the teacher’s assistant is a retired CPS teacher. So my son is definitely getting a quality preschool education at catholic school. 2 full-time teachers. 15 kids in the class. May they all go to heaven for the great sacrifice they have made to our children~ Much love to them. BOTTOM LINE – too much waste in the public school system. They could definitely take some direction from private schools.

    It’s a shame that education is always on the chopping block. But I guess it’s a genius way to get big support for tax increases . Too bad our children are used in such a manner. Giving the gov’t MORE money is like giving a crack addict money to support their bad habits when in reality they should be going to rehab (like our politicians should). A SYSTEM OVERHAUL is what we need.

    If the schools are in such dire need of money, I don’t understand why they would keep the preschool programs and go to a half-day K???? I have spent about 22k for 2 years of preschool. We needed fulll-time preschool because we are working parents. BUT I think it ‘s the parent’s responsiblity to teach their own children the basics before K if they aren’t willing or can’t pay for it. My son scored well on his gifted, and I don’t think he is going to learn too much next year in K that he doesn’t already know. I’m using the extra money that I’m saving from sending him to public school to put him in enrichment activities. I hope I’m making the right decision by sending him to public.

  • 46. LR  |  May 21, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Cutting the State Board of Education and having a local educational authority is an interesting idea. Agree that pensions are outdated and need to be reformed. My dad’s generation had pensions, but pensions have been replaced by 401K’s in every other profession.

    I like these ideas, but I still support an income tax increase. I think in the short-term, we need to find money to address the most critical issues, which I consider to be keeping class sizes low and saving things like gym and music. I don’t consider 100% funding of Pre-K and full day K to be critical, except in the most underserved neighborhoods. While cutting waste is necessary in the long-term, it’s not going to have an impact this fall because the ideas mentioned above are politically contentious. Not saying they can’t happen, it’s just going to take some time to do things like dissolve the State Board of Ed.

  • 47. RL Julia  |  May 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Trick,
    while I agree with you that CPS teachers are generally well-paid, I believe that they are really only paid what they are worth. Being a teacher is a really hard job and every good teacher I know works a 60+ hour work week in during the school year and concentrates on their own professional development, renews/upgrades their curriculum over the summer. In addition to the money they spend (often out their own pocket) for these acitvities, you probably don’t realize the for the most part all the books, lofts, furniture, rugs etc… and plenty of the toys also bought by the teachers as well. Are there some slackers gaming the system – well sure, but that’s any job.

    As far as the luxurious benefit us governmental workers enjoy – well we do get a pension (for those that make it the 30 years and don’t keep over before 60)but we don’t put into the social security system so there is no payout there unless you held a previous private sector job. We do get a lot of paid holidays – usually about twice the number that private sector people do but this year we also go to take 25 unpaid days off. There are talks for next year that at least the City of Chicago might go to a four day work week which means we get to do the same amount of work for 20% less pay and 20% less time.

    I understand that people don’t like to pay taxes but rarely do they think about all the things your taxes actually pay for. Everyone likes roads (even the ones with potholes are better than dirt) and clean water that comes out of the tap all the time and street lights and bridges that don’t fall down and not having an outhouse. Pretty much people like being able to go to the park and the library being able to call 911 or the fire department or getting your garbage picked up on a semi-regular basis. Even if you would gladly pay for these things on your own, you might not want to pay for your neighbor and what happens to their garbage or when their house burns down or whatever. As for these tasks being handled better by private enterprise – well, in the City of Chicago lots of things already are, so if you are complaining about government not delivering, you might be complaining about a private company.

  • 48. andrea1213  |  May 21, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I just want to reinforce what Melissa posted here about the Rally to Protest School Cuts. WE NEED TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD!!!! It’s not enough to complain on blogs like this and not take action. The rally that was held several weeks ago on a weekend at Lane Tech HS was poorly attended and we need to “put our money where our mouths are” so to speak. Yes, I will leave work a little early that day b/c if I can salvage all day Kindergarten for my child next year along with teachers’ jobs and other programs, that seems to be such a small sacrifice. PLEASE ATTEND THIS RALLY AND PASS ON THIS INFORMATION! My job requires me to be in a lot of schools on the Northside and I’ve seen this poster in the main office at most of them. School administrators and teachers are desperately urging us to RAISE OUR VOICES and BE HEARD!

    Here is the info again:

    Tuesday May 25th at 4 PM
    125 S Clark Street
    A MASS RALLY to PROTEST CUTS:
    37 kids to a class
    no pre-k
    no full day kindergarten
    STAND UP! You are a tax payer, you are a parent and our children need us!

  • 49. Bellfan  |  May 22, 2010 at 9:53 am

    LR – Bell is asking parents to fund 3 full-day kindergartens to avoid a two and a half hour session due to CPS cuts in early childhood. They previously offered a four hour extended program, which was cut. Art, music, technology classes, library, PE, ASL and Chinese class will still be offered, so I’m not sure where you got your information. Any parent who lives in the attendance boundaries can register for kindergarten and they are being asked to consider helping to fund the positions.

  • 50. Hawthorne mom  |  May 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I stopped by my old west side school and they are losing 5 teachers and an aide. They have about 650 students. The kids are really great kids, but the area is incredibly poor. (and the building needs to be knocked down, imo, it is in such poor condition) The only bright spot to being there the other day was to hear that many of the kids I taught in Kindergarten, who are all grown up 7th graders now, got into Lane Tech or other decent high schools. (and seeing old colleagues was nice, but the mood in the school was low because they are already really struggling to increase their scores and less 6 staff is going to make it pretty much impossible)

  • 51. Pawn  |  May 25, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I have children in CPS. However, part of me believes that the administration is crying wolf to get us to rally the legislators for more funds. CPS neds to blame someone other than themselves when the stuff hits the fan. Don’t you guys realize this as a clever PR tool? I don’t think the cuts will be as bad as what many are predicting, they are just bracing us for the worse case scenarios so we can all start freaking out. What everyone fails to realize is that the state is broke. There is no money for education and many other things. It’s not like someone has the money and won’t give it to CPS…there is NO money to give without taking it from somewhere else and that is not going to happen. It’s called politics and folks want to be re-elected. Legislators are ready to go on an extended summer break and just don’t want to be bothered with this before the elections. As painful as it sounds, at the end of the day we really do not have any control over this issue.

  • 52. anonymous  |  May 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Well, as a former activist, I know that being visible makes a difference. Look at the tea partiers. There aren’t all that many of them, relatively speaking, but they make the effort to be seen … so, politicians and media pay attention to them.

    I think it’s time for politicians to realize that parents are paying attention. And perhaps it’s time for us parents to really pay attention, in turn, to where our politicians put education in their political agendas.

    For example, I always pay attention to whether or not the candidates for my local aldermanic or committeeman positions have children in public or private school. I feel that aldermen with children in private school truly do not feel the pain of parents in CPS. I know. Don’t flame me. It’s not necessarily true. But, it’s my personal bias, so I”m sticking to it! Ha. : )

  • 53. rally  |  May 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Is anyone going to the rally downtown today? Budgets have already been given to schools so is it really worst case scenario or is this what next school year will look like?

    Where does Illinois fall in regards to funding for education? Are we 49th out of 50? Didn’t check my facts just heard this so if someone knows for sure please post. If so how is it 48 other states have more to spend on education?

    Another huge issue is the fairness of funding within Chicago. Class sizes and programming across the city are not and will not be equitable, this needs to be challenged!

  • 54. JB  |  May 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Was curious to see if anyone has any 3rd round info. Has anyone called to find out if there are spots open at either Edison or Coonley and if, yes, have they said when they would be making calls?

  • 55. KS  |  May 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Just got a 3rd round call for a 1st grade spot at Pritzker….we declined.

  • 56. what to do?  |  May 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Just received a 3rd round offer from edison. don’t know what to do – we’re already responsible for full year’s private school tuition at this late point. any advice?

  • 57. GN  |  May 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    What to do-That’s a tough one-So many factors such as siblings, location. etc. Is this for an upper grade or K? If upper, you have to consider transfer etc.

  • 58. wondering  |  May 25, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    wow u guys are soo lucky, has anybody heard anything from skinner?

  • 59. copy editor  |  May 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Here’s what people have to do: they have to let their legislators know that they are willing to pay more in taxes. As Pawn said, it’s not like someone is holding out on CPS, the money isn’t there. The politicians all want to be re-elected, so they are afraid to raise taxes.

    So that’s all there is to it.

  • 60. To "What to Do?"  |  May 25, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I don’t know how your private school contract works, but usually you have a date at which you are 25% responsible, then 50% responsible, and then at some point you become 100% responsible. Maybe you haven’t reached the 100% date. While you might not be able to get back the money you have already deposited/paid, you should be able to work with the business manager and principal to cancel your contract. Private schools have experienced this before and there probably is a way to make it work for you if you want to attend Edison. Also consider looking down the road 9 years from now. How much will you have spend on private tuition? Taking a hit now will save you tens of thousands down the road. If you want to attend a public selective enrollment high school then start in the public school system now. I’m sure students from Edison get the spots in the elite high schools. Good luck!

  • 61. Mom  |  May 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    @What to Do — If you’ve paid the full year’s tuition, it’s a breach of contract case. The school has an obligation to mitigate its damages — which it could do by filling the spot with someone who will take your place and pay the full year’s tuition. If the school can find someone to replace you, you should be entitled to your money back. Of course, fighting with the school and possibly having hire a lawyer may not be worth it. So, consider how popular your private school is and how likely the school is to fill your spot. If you think the school will fill the spot, then you are probably going to be able to get your money back eventually, if it’s worth it to you to fight the school so that you can attend Edison. Since we don’t know which private you are at, it’s hard to offer more concrete advice. Good luck with your decision.

  • 62. what to do?  |  May 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    thanks for all the advice! does anyone have feedback on edison? we’re entering at the first grade level.

  • 63. a dad  |  May 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    @62 what to do?
    Do you mind sharing your child’s score and tier for Edison acceptance? Just wondering if we stand any chance in the third round.

  • 64. cpsobsessed  |  May 25, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    @what to do – when we were at a private school I’d brought this up once with the head of the board and he mumbled something about “oh… we’ve never actually collected that from anyone.” (meaning the full tuition.) Of course they can if they feel like it. And feel like paying legal fees and/or collection fees.
    I get the purpose of it, but I do think it’s BS for schools that could fill that spot in the blink of an eye. If you think there is a waiting list, I might ask about making a deal – offer a small amount to cut yourself loose. They’ll come out ahead. I think it’s standard to loose about 10% (or the deposit amount.) Congrats!

  • 65. cpsobsessed  |  May 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    @copy editor – that is so true about the politicians not wanting to raise taxes. I went to a meeting with John Fritchey once and he just laid it out. Politicians think that if they raise taxes, they won’t get re-elected. And then where do they end up? Reality TV shows! Heh.
    When I got all the flyers before the last election and SO many of them said they swore not to raise taxes I wanted to call their office and complain. (And I should have.) They’re just programmed to think that.
    I wish somebody would lay out exactly WHICH people need to be replaced in office to make these changes happen. I’m terrible at knowing who to vote for since I end up paying attention like the night before the election.

  • 66. Edison parent  |  May 26, 2010 at 9:44 am

    @62 – We are in KDG at Edison currently. I’ve been forwarned that 1st grade is rough due to curriculum expectations placed on the teacher. Come prepared for daily homework, regular projects and a long day (we get on the bus at approximately 7am). The current KDG class is full of nice (very smart) kids, heavy on boys(16/10). The teachers are very experienced and good, as far as i see. They split the class into groups for science, reading, and some specials, so that the teachers have 1/2 the kids, so it’s more individualized. We are very happy at Edison.

  • 67. Edison parent  |  May 26, 2010 at 9:47 am

    BTW – All of the 8th graders got into SE Highschools. Half in Northside CP (the highest percent in the city).

  • 68. coonleymom  |  May 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    As a Room Rep, I received a letter today, laying out the proposed budget for the Coonley Gifted Program-kindergarten will be 1/2 day, losing French. CPS is also proposing the Gifted program has a class size of 35 (which will be decided this summer). The music and art programs will be downsized as well.

    This is how the budget stands now. If more money is allocated, then this could change.

    So depressing. Many of the reasons we chose to send our son into this program are being taken away…but wanted any of you out there making decisions to know as much as possible.

  • 69. Pawn  |  May 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    @copy editor
    I hope you’re just kidding when you say you are OK with your taxes being raised. I am not because there is no guarantee that the increase in my taxes will go towards the classroom. I would be fine with it if it went to CPS, maybe even half to administration and half to keep programs and teachers. But the reality is, and the reason many do not want a tax increase, is that in this corrupt state most will not go to the schools. I am not giving the state more money to hire someone’s relative to get a six-figure state job w/pension and do nothing or to ‘bailout” McCormick Place.

  • 70. rvmom  |  May 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    @coonleymom – Incoming K parents just received a letter asking for a $2,000 donation per child to fund full-day K for both the Options and neighborhood programs. It’s an all or nothing thing. If they don’t raise the full $125,000, then all K will be 1/2 day. Families are being asked to commit their money by 6/15. No word about French or art (which are both currently gone).

    I went to the last LSC meeting and it was very informative. I would encourage everyone to go to their school’s next meeting. Lots of good information that doesn’t get posted quickly elsewhere.

  • 71. agree!  |  May 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    @pawn Couldn’t agree more! The waste in CPS is, ask any CPS employee. Raising taxes not the solution.

  • 72. hom  |  June 5, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Why aren’t things fair? Sudler school has 6 hour prek & 6 hour Kindergaten =- good for them but why not make all CUTS FAIR – why are some kids allowed to be there for 6 hours and some kids in a different area only for 2 and half hours – it’s bull

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