South Loop Regional Gifted Center has stopped taking new students

October 3, 2011 at 8:17 am 104 comments

After a weekend of puzzled emailing as to why the South Loop RGC is not on the OAE application this year, I heard from a couple SL parents who confirmed that the program will not be accepting new students this year.  The existing classes will continue (for now, all housed in one building but there is talk of moving the middle school classes to a separate building, although it sounds like plans for this are not actually close.)  But by closing entry, I assume the program will graduate one class per year until it no longer is housed at South Loop at all. 

The letter sent to parents is below.  I was also told about a recent LSC meeting there where parents made a strong case to try to find a solution to the overcrowding.  It sounds like some of the neighborhood classes were very large (sizes in the mid 30’s.)  The school had acknowledged that keeping the gifted program DOES bring extra resources to the school (?) but the school is at full capacity and clearly something had to give.

So one immediate issue is that there are now 28 fewer Kindergarten gifted spots in the city.  And that will probably affect entry scores in some way (driving them higher.)  It is POSSIBLE that CPS is formulating plans to start a new RGC somewhere or that schools can lobby to get one (this is what Coonley did a few years back to help drive enrollment.) 

I would point out that even if there is not a gifted program near your home and you are interested in one, it’s worth putting in an application this year since you never know where/if a new program will spring up.  The year Coonley started the plans were not announced until AFTER the testing period was over, so only families who had their child tested were eligible for entry.  For all you know, a gifted program will pop up a mile from your home.   OR CPS could decide not to start a new one. 

I hate the idea of dropping a gifted class when there are so few in the city, but I certainly have a lot of sympathy for the neighborhood parents who are getting the shaft with giant class sizes due to limited space.  Somehow Bell has made it work creatively.  Coonley will likely need to get creative space-wise soon.  Pritzer and Beaubien have seemed to manage OK with space.  Are there any other Gifted/Neighborhood schools I’m forgetting?


Dear Parents,


As many of you are aware, the subject of growth at South Loop School (SLS) has been a much discussed topic. There continues to be just one question:  To grow or not to grow?  If SLS continues to grow with current programming and boundaries, the school needs more space.  If the school starts to limit enrollment, the school will not need more space. 

 Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently notified me that it is unable to provide additional space for our school next year, so we have taken some steps to limit enrollment.

 Based on discussions I have had with CPS officials and the Office of Academic Enhancement (which oversees CPS gifted programs), we have determined that it is in the best interest of current SLS students to limit the number of students admitted to SLS.  Consequently, CPS will not accept applications for the SLS Kindergarten Regional Gifted Program for the 2012-2013 school year.

 South Loop School will continue to offer Neighborhood K-8 grade programming and Regional Gifted Center 1-8 grade programming.

 To utilize the space in our existing buildings most effectively, I am working with CPS to make use of the SLS Early Childhood Center (ECC aka “Branch”) building for Kindergarten and 1st grade programming. Under this arrangement the preschool program would move to the SLS Main Building. Please note this plan is not confirmed and would not be effective until the 2012-2013 school year. 

 These plans will make better use of the resources that are available to us and allow us to continue to provide the excellent academic and Extended Day programs that have made SLS a school of choice. 

 I appreciate your interest and invite your participation as we continue to monitor and manage growth at SLS.

 Yours in education,

 Tara Shelton

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How is school going? (Especially you longer day people) Ready, Set, Apply – 2012/2013 School Year

104 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mayfair Dad  |  October 3, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Maybe the old Jones HS building should be repurposed as a K-8 regional gifted center (instead of an AC, the current rumor).

  • 2. cps Mom  |  October 3, 2011 at 8:40 am

    On one hand it is good to see so much interest in CPS neighborhood schools. There is talk about the Jones building. Many ideas floating around with no confirmation.

  • 3. CPSoops  |  October 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Wildwood IB has been way overcrowded for years.

  • 4. cps Mom  |  October 3, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Out of curiosity – are there any stats available that show # of gifted kids to spaces available? Where do they draw the line as to who qualifies as gifted and eligible for special programming? Once the additional seats kick in at AC’s for 7 and 8 do they expand the definition of gifted? Are the RGC’s or SEES similar to SEHS in that there are spaces but not in locations with larger clusters of “gifted” kids?

    Seems to me that there are many layers (and yes, I love choice and was happy to have it) but maybe some overall consolidation necessary in order to better serve the needs of the community. Some neighborhoods have multiple magnets, gifted programs while others have nothing. Kids ride 1.5 hours on a bus while there are other quality schools much closer.

  • 5. Anonymous  |  October 3, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I think the whole system will need to be re-evaluated. Families are staying in the city. Parents are sending their kids to public school — including neighborhood schools. Ours go to Lincoln. It is bursting at the seams. Something will HAVE to be done. We can’t have all these magnet schools with limited enrollment and try to squeeze the rest into the neighborhood schools.

    The magnet/SE system had its use to keep people in the city. They’re staying. Now, what?

    Besides, there are “gifted” at every neighborhood school. Their needs can be met at many neighborhood schools. The best suburban schools do not have separate schools for their brightest students.

    I’m glad that South Loop chose to look out for its neighborhood school kids first.

  • 6. SL mom  |  October 3, 2011 at 11:44 am

    There are currently 37 children in each 1st grade neighborhood class, 36 in each neighborhood 2nd, & 36 in each neighborhood 3rd at SL. Cutting gifted kindergarten won’t actually help these classrooms this year. It’s not obvious what it will mean for neighborhood kids this year. I’d be curious to hear about the sizes of neighborhood classes at other CPS schools. We’ve been told 37 per elementary room is the norm for CPS. An RGC at the old Jones building sounds like a great idea.

  • 7. Nervous at SLS  |  October 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    We are at SL as well – “restricting enrollment” by cutting the K class and not allowing anyone new into the other grades will not make an impact on all of the over crowded classrooms until they move the RGC out completely. (Even then they would eventually need more space as well.) I am an RGC parent, and it makes me nervous about how our program will be supported and perceived by the administration moving forward. I would be all for the move to Jones (or the Teacher’s Academy) if it meant stability and not dealing with a principal who looks down her nose at you if you aren’t dressed to the nines and writing checks to the foundation.

  • 8. klm  |  October 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm


    Lincoln is our “Zone” school. People love it, its test scores rock (one of the best in Illinois –a CPS NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL–yeahhh!), etc., but all I hear from parents is how crowded it is, how there’s not room for an extra ANYTHING (student, class, activity, etc.), how the facilities are woefully taxed, etc. (kinda’ a spaced-deprived victim of its own Supply/Demand success, I guess).

    What gives? Is there any talk of a new building (a la Ogden) or expanding (say k-3 at another facility, maybe even eventually a Pre-K [dare to dream], etc.)?

    As it is, Lincoln’s K is stuck at half-day for lack of space.

    Many Lincoln-zoned families must be afraid that they’ll be shut out by a necessarily shrinking “Lincoln Attendance Zone”.

    If a school is popular, wildly successful academically and so desired that people move from all over the city to be in its attendance boundary (real estate people/friends tell me that Lincoln-zoned family houses command a 10-15% premium –not sure about that one, but real estate ads sure do like to announce ‘Lincoln School district’), one would think that CPS would try to keep it that way, but who knows?

  • 9. Upset South Loop Mom  |  October 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Removing the Regional Gifted Center from South Loop is a HUGE mistake. The will suffer in reduced funding, the foreign language will be completely removed since the neiighborhood students aren’t entitled to Spanish classes, the extensive after school program and summer camp might be effected since there will be less students and diversity would disapear as well. Most neighborhood parents dont even want to keep their kid(s) at South Loop,not because of the large class sizes in recent years but because it lack what other schools such as : Jackson and Skinner has. Additionally, most neighborhood parents still conside private schools over South Loop. So does Mrs. Shelton think this new move will improve South Loop? If she does, she is mistaken. South Loop is a great school and my two kids love it however this is a bad decision. Instead of ending the gifted program, South Loop should have considered moving the upper grades to,the nearly vacant Teacher”s Academy just down the street, that would have solved its overcrowding problem.

  • 10. Southie  |  October 3, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    I thought the old Jones building will be torn down to make way for a redesign of the road traffic patterns at Harrison and State.

  • 11. Nervous at SLS  |  October 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    RGC at South Loop is not getting foreign language instruction. Mrs. Shelton won’t give anything to the RGC kids that she can’t give to the neighborhood kids. It was my impression from the LSC info that South Loop presented that option, and appeared to be in favor of it, but it was rejected. I had heard rumblings about some neighborhood parents being unhappy with the location of the Teacher’s Academy (never mind the school is BEAUTIFUL).

  • 12. anonymous  |  October 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I’d be curious to know how many of the overcrowded facilities mentioned above are currently using mobile units to relieve that? My school does and really we need another unit to house an additional 4 classrooms to deal with the issue. Currently speech services are offered in a hallway, all sped classes and ESL classes are offered as “push-in” only.
    And as far as Lincoln having 37 kids in a room, that’s just terrible. I hope each of those teachers have full time teacher assistant’s available to them. Or are getting extra pay for the extra work load. That amount of kids in a room is, imo, on the verge of immoral. Thank you to the Chicago Board of Ed and our mayor who care so deeply about kids getting the shaft that they do absolutely nothing about the things wrong with the system that are in THEIR power. No classroom should ever, for any reason, ever, have more than 30, ever. Since most of CPS has at least 3-5 sped kids, 50% ESL, 80%+ poverty level students, how are parents in our system not enraged at class sizes? Why do I only ever hear about “bad teachers” or “greedy teachers” and NOTHING about the immorality of stuffing more kids than even fire code will allow in a room? I would bet my home that Lincoln school and tons more like it are in direct violation of fire code and the city simply looks the other way because it isn’t convenient to deal with it.

  • 13. cps Mom  |  October 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Thinking more about the Jones building – there is no surrounding open space, no gym, no library and a lot of stairs. Don’t know how you could navigate pick up and drop off downtown. Right now kids come pretty exclusively by public transportation. Probably not an option for kindergarteners. Haven’t heard about a tear down. It’s a perfectly good building, but that wouldn’t be overriding criteria in Chicago.

  • 14. southloopcomments  |  October 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    From reading the letter it sounds like the principal was put into a corner from CPS. Principals generally don’t make these decisions, CPS does. And National Teacher Academy is affiliated with AUSL, an organization with close ties to Rahm and his cronies. It’s likely they have plans for that building.
    As for the expansion of a middle school….personally, I don’t think the (or any) principal could handle two campuses–elementary schools and middle schools generally have two separate principals for obvious reasons unless they are under the same roof.
    South Loop School has become a school of choice for the neighborhood but I know the principal uses a lot of discretion so overcrowding is the result of many siblings and “outsiders” in the classrooms. There are many issues at play here.
    It’s likely it would be a successful stand alone neighborhood school without the RGC, but taking the RGC away all at once would be a disaster given the investment of parents and community members and organizations. I think this would be true of any school who lost 1/3 of its teachers and population overnight.

  • […] South Loop Regional Gifted Center has stopped taking new students CPS Obsessed: One immediate issue is that there are now 28 fewer Kindergarten gifted spots in the city.  And that will probably affect entry scores in some way (driving them higher.) […]

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2011 at 7:27 am

    One other interesting things from the notes I saw from an LSC meeting at SL: The parents who are worried about overcrowding and big classes purported that there are kids in the neighborhood program who are outside the school boundaries and wanted this investigated.

    The school said they didn’t have the means and did not want to pursue it. I know it causes bad vibes to hunt down families who are outside the zone and kick them out. But it also makes me mad to know there are people clogging up a school who are there deceptively. I supposed if you attend a school for a few years and then move you should be grandfathered in at some point. Maybe?

  • 17. SLSparent  |  October 4, 2011 at 8:51 am

    The principal accepted all those out-of-district families. Only a few attend “stealth.”

  • 18. cpsobsessed  |  October 4, 2011 at 8:54 am

    So that was back when the school was trying to grow enrollment? I’d agree, it would be uncool to turn them away now.

    My son’s school had a line in our back to school packet saying that anyone outside the hood should now be attending their own neighborhood school – but I cannot see it being enforced in any way.

    I’m very curious to see whether CPS starts a new RGC somewhere this year….
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 19. CPSDepressed  |  October 4, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I think that if you enrolled legimately in the neighborhood, you are still allowed to attend if you move. I looked into a few years ago when we were thinking that we could make a fortune by selling our house. Remember those days?

  • 20. Anonymous  |  October 4, 2011 at 9:44 am

    @ 8

    I think every possibility is on the table. The biggest issue may be shrinking the Lincoln boundaries. Where would our kids go? We’re surrounded by magnets. Will they change the magnets to neighborhood schools?

    I am so glad I’m not a principal right now! Our principal is doing an amazing job, though.

  • 21. just a thought  |  October 4, 2011 at 9:47 am

    This is one reason why I feel it it necessary to test my kid every year….even though I have no interest in changing schools. (Currently at Edison) You never know–at any given moment, a RGC can be taken from a school and moved across the city or even just removed from the school altogether like South Loop. And with Rahm and his bull in a china shop attitude, I feel like anything is possible….at any time…..not kidding. Testing is a huge hassle but it id the only way to have options in the event of something like this happening….my neighborhood school is not an option.

  • 22. Slsmom43  |  October 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

    The reg Ed classrooms at SLS have 30+ students which is against CPS contract. 27 is the cap but Shelton could care less about shoving kids in chairs that are too small and using long tables as desks. Yes, my child had to sit in a chair made for pre schoolers and work elbow to elbow at long tables with zero space to stretch. Each child had to use a plastic bin to put their books and supplies in. Not Acceptable! If the gifted program moves, the rooms could be used for reg Ed and result in “normal” size classes. I have one child in gifted and have been pleased with the program. However, I prefer Skinner and plan to make the change next year. I’m tired of dealing with a principal who has such an attitude! Toss some cash at her and see how nice she becomes. For a school that has so much parent evolvement , where are the resources? Computers, white boards, iPads , laptops??? Teacher assistants for over crowded classrooms? There needs to be more transparency. If it weren’t for the middle class parents, this school would go back to behavior issues, low test scores etc. Goes to show that a longer day isn’t needed, parents are needed.

  • 23. southloopcomments, part 2  |  October 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Is 27 really the cap? Suggested for RGC is 28 and most are beyond that.

    My children are at SL (I’m in the boundary but in both programs) and it seems that they are using all their resources for extra teachers. The 1st grade neighborhood classrooms each have student teacher and a fully certified teacher working half time in each room. Another fully certified teacher started this week to help with either 2nd or 3rd grade. That’s a pretty good ratio I think. But then again, if all the extra kids weren’t in the classes due to lax admissions they could use the funds elsewhere.

    I feel that many people demonize the principal and throw negativity where it doesn’t belong. Some parents have gotten entitled and whiney….some parents are even evil, which is unfortunate. She may not be warm and fuzzy but her job is to make sure the teachers educate our kids and it seems that job is getting done and getting done well.

    I do hope that the policy for admissions gets stricter next year but I say that every year…..I’m completely frustrated at how many out of boundary kids are in the neighborhood program but many are siblings of RGC and wouldn’t we all want our kids at the same school if we didn’t have another choice? And wouldn’t we all beg to get into a good school if we didn’t have another choice? It’s not right but it’s what has happened. I would estimate about 15-20 kids in the earlier grades (K-3?) in the neighborhood programs should NOT be there based on where they live.

    It’s just unfortunate that CPS wouldn’t allow South Loop to grow the model and give more space. Something has to give and it’s my hope that people will start going elsewhere if they aren’t happy as it will make room for those of us who are positive.

  • 24. anon  |  October 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

    @22 – I wasn’t aware that you could change selective schools at will. I assume you would need to qualify by point system to get into Skinner.

  • 25. LR  |  October 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Hmmm…I often wonder if/when this is going to happen at Bell. It is interesting because in my daughter’s RGC class at Bell, there are quite a few students that live in the neighborhood boundaries who tested in. I suspect Bell probably has enough kids from the neighborhood program who would technically qualify for gifted education, they could probably just make one class per grade a gifted class and stop accepting students on an RGC basis.

    I’m worried because the neighborhood Kindergarten is up to 34 kids per class this year and I sense the neighborhood continuing to grow. Eliminating applicants from outside the neighborhood would certainly alleviate crowding. And with the amount of money that the school raises, I don’t know that programming would be affected that much if the RGC ceases to exist. As much as I don’t like the thought of that happening, it makes sense to me. If Bell is a strong enough neighborhood school to exist on its own, with its own gifted program, why should they keep the RGC? Shouldn’t RGC’s be part of neighborhood schools that need additional resources? Or shouldn’t they serve to boost the school populations at neighborhood schools that aren’t currently populated by kids from the neighborhood? I’m afraid that what is going on at South Loop is going to set a precedent for other overcrowded RGC’s that are housed within neighborhood schools. But, even being a parent of an RGC student I can’t necessarily disagree with it.

  • 26. Bell  |  October 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I don’t think it would be fair for Bell’s gifted program to be limited to kids living in the neighborhood. My older children went there and we didn’t live in the neighborhood and we were very pleased with the experience. I have heard that now, many of the people who live in the neighborhood almost resent the gifted program, but that is what made Bell special….the neighborhood got a boost from the gifted program and also, the gifted program was greatly enhanced by the neighborhood program. And let’s not forget about the Hearing Impaired Program…..Bell is special because it has 3 programs under one roof. That would be sad and really unfair to take that all away and give it to only the kids that live in that neighborhood. (I am sure they would keep the Hearing Impaired area available to anyone who qualified for it). In addition, within their neighborhood, program they have many students who do not live in the neighborhood who have gotten a spot–and that is sometimes where I think the resentment comes from–not so much the gifted program itself but from the extra people who have gotten a spot. Also, Mr. Guercio made Bell special–he got great support from the folks downtown, he knew how to hire good teachers, and he was just an all around good principal….in all 3 departments. The neighborhood has just gotten to big for the school.

  • 27. Coonley mom  |  October 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I feel for South Loop and wonder how many years it will be until Coonley is faced with the same decision (I doubt it will happen when Rahm is mayor though since he is such an advocate of the school). However, it never made since to me WHY Coonley even started a RGC when it is less than a mile from Bell and not to far from the relocated Edison.

    Without being involved in the financial aspects of it I’ve always wondered if CPS intends to combine the RGC’s for Coonley, Bell, and Edison into one large RGC with 3 classes per grade.

  • 28. Edison Parent  |  October 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    It was often speculated that Bell and Coonley would be merged at some point…..but thankfully, that never happened. I never heard of them combining the 3–that would be interesting. One of the things that troubles me about free standing RGCs (such as Edison) is that it just has 30 kids per grade–whereas at Coonley or Bell, they have kids from both programs and there is much better socialization (from what i have noticed from having kids at both).

  • 29. CPSDepressed  |  October 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I’ve heard rumors that the Bell RGC would move to Hamilton.

  • 30. Nervous at SLS  |  October 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I guess my concern as a parent of a young RGC kid at South Loop is what happens a few years down the road. When an RGC is just starting up, and there are only a few classes, it is new and exciting and well supported by the school/CPS. When the RGC is winding down, and your kid is in the last class that moves through, now the RGC is old and tired, and the school/CPS is just looking to move on. What kind of support will be offered to the kids that remain? Will it even be a real RGC classroom, or just another neighborhood class we are “allowed” to keep our kids in? It probably isn’t an issue this year or in the next few even, but what happens when all you have are this year’s Kindergarteners? Or will CPS even let it go that far? Will I find out we are SOL somewhere in the middle? CPS phrases it as “restricting enrollment”, but I see it also as a subtle abandonment of the rest of these kids as a part of the RGC program.

  • 31. db  |  October 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    @29 – That would make NO sense at all since Hamilton has a Comprehensive Gifted Program of their own.

  • 32. Angie  |  October 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

    @31. db: how does Comprehensive Gifted compare to RGC Gifted? Do kids have to test into it, too?

  • 33. CPSDepressed  |  October 5, 2011 at 9:57 am

    The impression I get at our school is that “comprehensive gifted” is a special program for white children of donors who do not have learning disabilities. There’s a test, but only a select few are asked to take the test, and no one who takes the test ever gets to see the scores. It’s caused a lot of tension at our school over the years, because no one can ever get a straight answer on what it means to be “gifted”.

    The Regional Gifted Centers, by contrast, are pretty much for kids who test in the 99th percentile at a young age. The test misses a lot of kids who are not mature enough to sit for the test or who are in a bad mood the day of the test, but it defines “gifted” more narrowly.

  • 34. Kathy  |  October 5, 2011 at 11:14 am

    @32/Angie: we don’t have any personal experience with comprehensive gifted programs, but I know that at Disney, at least, they briefly “test” all incoming kindergarteners (unlike other schools, you have to bring the kids with you when you enroll so they can be “tested”). We were told that the top 30% of those tested would be placed in the comprehensive gifted program. Though we turned down our Disney spots so we didn’t actually go through the testing process, I think the principal said it was reading & math testing (one on one with a teacher in a hallway) and took just a few minutes. Based on this description of the testing, it sounded to me like the comprehensive gifted program was more for those with the most advanced skills of the entering class (which may or may not be related to “giftedness”). It’s top x% (percent will vary by school, I’d guess) of the pool of incoming students.

    I thought I’d read somewhere that Hamilton’s program doesn’t begin until 1st grade, though – was that just for its initial year? It would make more sense to start it after the teachers have observed the kids for a year, but I suppose the lure of a comprehensive gifted program is what draws applicants to K in the first place.

  • 35. db  |  October 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    At Hamilton, they start in 1st grade and they are tested before school starts to find the top 10% percent that need more challenge. It’s all on their website.

    A friend of mine has a dd in the Disney gifted classroom and they are very happy with it. Basically they do 1st grade stuff since the kids are pretty advanced.

  • 36. watcher  |  October 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @33 “The impression I get at our school is that ‘comprehensive gifted’ is a special program for white children of donors who do not have learning disabilities.”

    Ha! That cracks me up! Now, THAT’S the CPS I know and (really don’t) love.

  • 37. Esmom  |  October 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    @18, CPS does occasionally enforce this, it’s happened at Bell a few times in recent years. Students were identified as using false addresses (a grandparent’s and a family business were two of the examples I heard about).

    Not sure how the school became aware of the fraud but the playground chatter was that a disgruntled parent reported them. Then in August those students received letters (from downtown not Bell) informing them they were no longer welcome and would have to enroll in their neighborhood school.

  • 38. jman  |  October 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    As a South Loop “neighborhood” parent, the class size does bother me but it does not seem to be an issue for my daughter. I will be happy to test her against any of the gifted kids.

    As for the overcrowding, a very simple solution is to move the gifted program to National Teachers Academy. Since the classes are seperate anyway, it doesn’t really matter where it is does it? For those kids that are in the after school program, the can be bvused back. The only problen with this solution is that South Loop would still need more teachers…anyway…

  • 39. Angie  |  October 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks for the Comprehensive Gifted information. Getting into top 10% within a school, not to mention top 30%, is certainly more doable than getting into top 1% in the entire city. I wish more schools had this program available.

  • 40. here we go again  |  October 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Sure. Let’s continue to treat accelerated programs like footballs. Make the most promising kids move from place to place. Parents of kids in accelerated programs pay taxes & live in the city — although they seem to be second seat behind neighborhood kids in terms of priority. The neighborhood programs do NOT provide the level of program that will challenge a bright student. They’re not measured on how well they challenge kids but on how well they are able to meet minimum standards, so unless the incentive system changes — this will not change.
    Truly disgusted

  • 41. Nervous at SLS  |  October 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I guess it is only October. Plenty of time for CPS to change the story many, many times. Who knows where it will end up. After all, this is a school district that thinks nothing of changing the school hours 3 weeks into the year.,0,4496039.story

    I forsee an opportunity to change your rankings (a la Lane Tech last year). They already have the Application Modification forms online…

  • 42. Anonymous  |  October 11, 2011 at 11:21 am


    Seriously? Wow. As a neighborhood school mom I am both livid and speechless.

    We pay taxes, too, in case you didn’t know. And I’d like to think of my child as one of “the most promising.” Don’t we all?

    I, too, am truly disgusted.

  • 43. "The Most Promising Kids???"  |  October 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    @40 …. I tried to ignore your posting, but #42 is correct.
    “The most promising kids” ??? Get over yourself and count your blessings. First of all, you have had the privilege of smaller classes, unlike the neighborhood children. Secondly, your program will still be supported, still be free — so who cares if your child has to get used to a new locker a few blocks away? And lastly, depending on the teacher, several neighborhood teachers offer differentiated work that often mirrors the gifted (accelerated) classrooms.

  • 44. cps Mom  |  October 11, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    @33 is the first logical explanation I have heard of gifted testing. If true and there are kids in RGC’s below 99%, then CPS is in fact providing more seats for gifted than there is the need. Wouldn’t a solid uniform differentiation program better serve the needs?

    All kids in CPS are entitled.

  • 45. HSObsessed  |  October 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    @33 said:

    “The impression I get at our school is that ‘comprehensive gifted’ is a special program for white children of donors who do not have learning disabilities.”

    This sentence made me LOL. It’s one of those truisms that you’ll only see voiced on anonymous message boards.

  • 46. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I think the problem here is that we are missing the boat. All our children have limitless potential and we all want the best for them. The worst thing we, as parents, can do is to divide among neighborhood & RGC families.

    I think we all need to be South Loop families and make CPS do what is best for all our children. What’s best for all our kids is to not have 37 kids in a class, and also to not remove the RGC kids. I am an out-of-boundary RGC parent and I find the 37 students/room completely unacceptable, and I find ending RGC to be equally damaging to the school.

    We were blindsided by the letter last week because it doesn’t fix the class overcrowding, ends the RGC, leaves the school buildings still bursting at the seams, and makes the RGC families feeling like they aren’t really part of South Loop, but a removable component.

    We need to make it clear to the school administration and CPS at this Wednesday’s LSC meeting that we are all vital parts of this school’s success. All CPS has done is hurt the school with the plan outlined in Prinicipal Shelton’s letter because it doesn’t fix the classroom issues and it terminates a very successful program that brings in more bright children and active families, to complement the bright kids in the neighborhood and their excellent parents. I know people with children in both progams and all these children are getting phemonal educations from their teachers. I’d be proud to have my kids in either.

    What the teachers, parents, and administration have built at South Loop needs to be fostered and encouraged, not terminated in unilateral manner it was (though judging from the article link in Post #41, it seems CPS may be backtracking, thankfully, which brings up the hodge-podge planning CPS seems to use for our kids’ long term education, which it an issue for another day).

    I hope CPS is able to find a way to make SLS grow because it’s such a supportive and educationally challenging environment for my child, and I want it there for my other kids, as well as current and future South Loop families.

    As an RGC parent, I don’t want to fight with neighborhood parents about what kids deserve what. I don’t want us to the neighborhood/RGC identifiers at all. I want all of us to simply be SLS parents who demand better for all our kids. I want to fight with CPS for putting us all in this situation.

    Sorry for the long post, hopefully see you Wednesday night!

  • 47. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Post 46 was for all readers, but specially directed @ 43, 42, & 40. Forgot to add that in the post… sorry.

  • 48. cps Mom  |  October 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    @45 – I was referring to the 2nd paragraph….but altogether true 😉

  • 49. cps grad  |  October 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I keep asking myself “When is CPS going to get its act together?” Just found out today that the principal at Keller RGC is being transferred to a “network” (formerly “area”) office, effective immediately. This is one of the most amazing school leaders I have ever worked with. She is fair, charismatic, friendly, and firm. Now we are without a principal and CPS has allowed this transfer mid-year. I don’t even know how to break this to the kids. On the other hand, CPS makes it virtually impossible for an LSC to hire a decent candidate. They have an entire office dedicated to “approving” principal candidates yet that’s supposed to be the LSC’s job. What a crock!!!
    As for South Loop, the problem of an overcrowded building (actually they are in 2 buildings already) was apparent 2 years ago. The fact that CPS chooses to wait and sit on the problem is baffling. NTA on Cermak sits virtually vacant for years and it’s brand-spanking-new by CPS standards. Why build a state of the art facility in an area that was slated to lose all its housing (and therefore its children/potential students)?
    Clearly the talented CPS grads (both gifted and others) DO NOT go on to work for CPS…

  • 50. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that I believe the Keller principal pissed someone off. Good principals are only removed if they anger one of the higher ups. Perhaps she was advocating for kids. Perhaps she spoke the truth about things that are happening in the district. Perhaps she refused to be silent about the many screwy things that make working, teaching, attending or otherwise being involved with CPS beyond challenging. My guess is this was not her choice.
    I have seen this again and again. We cannot get rid of the god-awful teachers or principals and we cannot keep the good ones.
    And before someone reiterates the obvious fault of the CTU in the removal or non-removal of staff, it amazes me how no one ever talks about the very serious irresponsibility and horrible leadership the Board of Ed has put in place that also contributes greatly to this problem. The schools that function well do so ONLY because of great staff and great parents. They function IN SPITE OF cps’s leadership. NO school functions well BECAUSE of cps or its leadership. NOT ONE. I’d go so far as to say leadership in CPS, with the exception of maybe a handful of principals is completely non-existent.

  • 51. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    And I’ll say that the fact that Ken Staral, at Ogden, who misused (I’d go so far as to say I’d call it stealing) CPS funds for years,as documented by the recent news, the fact that he still has his job is astounding and disgusting to me. Talk about the horrible leaders being able to keep their jobs and the good ones being forced out!

  • 52. Angie  |  October 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    @51. anonymous: according to Staral, those funds were used to establish international school partnerships which are the necessary part of Ogden International Baccalaureate program. Do you actually have any proof that he pocketed the money?

  • 53. anonymous  |  October 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Nope, never said he pocketed the money. My assertion is that he did not need to make international travel to run a school when teachers have to supply their own staples! Taking trips anywhere, anytime, as a school employee, even principals, that aren’t absolutely life and death vital to your job performance, is stealing in my opinion. Let alone some 17K worth of trips! I call BS that it is necessary for school partnerships. And if it is necessary, then CPS itself is guilty of gross mismanagement. Our teacher assistants don’t make a living wage and yet principals can travel to Europe on taxpayers dime for a fancy IB program? Teachers pay for every freaking last thing, and I do mean everything, and he can’t shell out some of his $150K salary to take a trip? We don’t need IB programs when we have schools that can’t afford pencils.

  • 54. jjjs  |  October 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I really don’t see how it would be a problem to move the RGC (forgive me for using this lame term) to another building. You move the teachers over so you have the same (high) level of instruction. Most of the students come from out of the area so going 10 blocks further south to NTA or somewhere else shouldn’t make one bit of difference. NTA is also a beautiful school.

    I suspect their will be a bit of a blow to the numbers and the demographics of the remaining neighborhood school but with a bit of work and some outreach from the current (white) families to others in the neighborhood (many of whom can no longer afford to send their kids to private school – no matter the price or color of the students but are doing their best to make it work), a slight change to the boundaries and they can turn South Loop into a majority white school like Nettelhorst in a few years.

  • 55. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 17, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    @#54, jjjs…
    The problem is the RGC families were told we were South Loop families, not families of RGC kids who happen to be housed at South Loop. To pull our kids out of the school they identify as their school (they don’t see themselves as RGC kids, they see themselves as South Loop kids), is terribly unfair to the kids, and the families.
    Our kids deserve the same treatment as all other South Loop kids. Imagine if CPS said they wanted to make South Loop completely RGC, and was moving all the neighborhood kids to a new school. That would be an awful experience for the families, but most importantly, it would be awful for the kids. That is what your suggestion does for the RGC kids.
    I think we need to recognize the value of all the kids in the school and not let CPS divide the families between neighborhood & RGC families. The solution shouldn’t be to kick out any of our kids, it should be to find more space for the entire school and foster the growth at one of the best schools in the state.

  • 56. jjjs  |  October 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    @55. SLS RGC K Parent

    If all of your child’s classmates or, for that matter in your scenario where the rest of South Loop were to be moved, those of the other students, I don’t think they would care too much if they were a “South Loop family” or one of some other building. Losing their classmates would absolutely be “unfair” (although I am not totally sure this rises to the level of unfair to anyone. I’ve been through a school closing and the concept is more emotional than the reality).

    I don’t see many other short-term solutions and I notice that you don’t provide any just seek fairness. Please put forth your solution.

  • 57. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    @56. jjjs
    While my child has class with the same group of kids, he also is involved in other South Loop activities (after school programming which includes all grades, school basketball is coming up, Tae Kwon Do, etc…) so his involvement extends beyond the classroom (as it does for a lot of other kids).

    A short term solution isn’t good enough for any of the kids at the school. My solutions are:

    (1) partner with NTA and use their space for South Loop to extend a middle school campus there (okay, this is short-term because it doesn’t permanently fix SLS crowding problems).

    (2) Use the old Jones building as a middle school starting in 2013.

    (3) Extend the school boundaries to incorporate all of NTA and instead of using NTA space, make NTA/South Loop one district. NTA has approximately 350 students in a building that can accommodate up to 1000 (but let’s say 800 to be conservative). South Loop, from what parents say, has 700 students in two buildings (ECC & main). the main building has room for 600 kids (I am not counting ECC class space in this example, but I counting the kindergarten kids in population for SLS’s student population).
    That makes room for 1400-1600 kids, when, combined SLS and NTA have about 1050. With room for 350-550 more kids (11-19 extra classrooms of kids), that’s room to grow. Plus, the above numbers only contemplate the space in the SLS main building, and NTA, not the ECC space. That means, there is the entire ECC space to use, too.
    I would imagine the upper grades (5-8) would be at NTA, but I’d trust education professionals to make the call on what grades belonged at what buildings).
    NOTE: NTA’s boundaries only go from 18th St, to I-55, and from the tracks at Clark, to the lake. There aren’t a lot of residents there. It’s mostly McCormick, and warehouses to the east, a few residential buildings to the north, and that’s it, so the boundary extension doesn’t significantly multiply pool of potential students.

    I like my #3 best, because it grows SLS’s model. My #2, Jones is a good option, but I can see CPS selling that property. My #1 is a short-term solution that works to maintain SLS, but doesn’t solve the long-term problem.

    These plans require the willingness of SLS, NTA and CPS to work together to keep a great public education model going.

    I think my proposals are not all that new (maybe with the exception of #3), but I think they are viable and promote the growth of our wonderful school, without expelling children already there, or ending a great program (RGC) that has helped make SLS a top-tier school.

    I’d appreciate any feedback.

  • 58. southloopparent  |  October 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    The issue isn’t rocket science. If enrollment isn’t limited in one way or another, something has to be done. I’m fearful of a middle school model, especially if it’s just sharing space with a school-NTA-that potentially doesn’t want us down there anyway. While the old Jones seems attractive, it’s not ideal. I love idea #3 as it is inclusive for whole neighborhood and expands the successful SLS model.
    AUSL currently has NTA. AUSL counts Mayor Emanuel and many CPS board members as their friends. Good luck kicking them out of that building. And what would happen to the current SLS building?

    Another idea is to move Perspectives population (the building right by ECC/Branch) to NTA (they are charter and can go anywhere, NTA would be an upgrade for them with the gym and pool, as they currently have none) and let that extra building be for grades 5-8 for SLS.

    At the end of the day, regardless of what will be happening with SLS, it’s a shame that NTA-which is gorgeous and new with so many facilities-is sitting there severely underused.
    Alderman Dowell (NTA is in her district) and some reps from Fioretti were at the last LSC meeting. Perhaps they’ll start collaborating.

  • 59. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 17, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    @58 – southloopparent.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism/advice. As I am new to CPS (oldest child is in K at SLS), I am new to the dynamic/politics of CPS. I would hope that political turfwars don’t injure our kids and SLS. I know Mayor Emanuel also visited SLS and used a 1st grader to highlight his education agenda. I would hope his praise of SLS didn’t end with him taking office.
    I know the mayor is a friend of AUSL, and would hope we can find a way to combine the two institutions for the benefit of all the kids at both schools… certainly both schools can learn and improve by taking best practices from each.

    As for Perspectives… that’s another interesting idea. I assumed charter schools owned or rented their own spaces, but if that is a potential site, I would be all for looking into that. I would be concerned about ousting the current students & families from their school, but if there was another property the charter school was happy with, that could work well, too (like my solution #2, replacing Jones with Perspectives).

    Thanks for the comments. I have sent letters to several alderman offices, and will do so to the mayor’s office (though I know how fruitless these letters probably will be).

    If anyone has any ideas of how to effectively reach out to CPS, SLS officials, elected officials, NTA/Perspectives families, I’d love to work with any SLS families who want to see the school grow, and not cut kids and excellent educational opportunities. I’d be willing to meet/email/call any SLS families that want to get together and make this happen.

  • 60. anonymous  |  October 17, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    I somehow think that SL parents will not want their kids to attend school with NTA kids. Completely different student populations. SL scores would plummet and I doubt parents of SL kids would appreciate the behavior issues they have at NTA.

  • 61. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    @60. Anonymous.
    I assume the “different student populations” would be that NTA students are almost all black, and low income.

    According to the CPS website, SLS is more than half black, and 1/3 low income so that population is already significantly present, yet SLS is excelling. That makes me think there isn’t any real issue NTA’s population, other than race/economic position.

    SLS scores, according to CPS’s website are in the mid-90’s, while, NTA’s scores are in the mid-70’s. Keep in mind, SLS’s scores include the RGC students. I don’t know what type of scores SLS would have without the RGC scores, but it’s safe to say they would decrease. Both achieved an “Excellent” rating (the best rating possible) on the CPS Performance Policy.

    Also, I’m unaware of any behavior issues at NTA that are out of the ordinary, as compared with SLS. NTA is also making gains in their scores so it makes me think that there aren’t any behavior issues.

    Using the current population figures from CPS for NTA and SLS, a combined student population would be 70% black, 16% white, 14% Hispanic, Asian, etc… and 601% low income. I would agree that SLS has a better racial/ethnic/economic balance, but these numbers don’t seem unacceptable.

    Based on all of that, it makes me think the “population”, plummeting test scores, and “behavior” agruments are not based in fact. It makes me think that the pushback about growing SLS with NTA is tied to stereotypes and race/economic status issues some SLS parents may have.

    If that is the case, I can’t state clearly enough how bad an idea it would be to choose ending RGC, kicking RGC students, out, and fundamentally changing what makes SLS a great school, because some parents have indefensible, illogical, racist feelings about students who attend NTA.

  • 62. jjjjSLS  |  October 17, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Those are all fine plans but way over complicated, particularly those that involve some multi-campus system. As 60 says, there is also the race/socioeconomic issue that comes with some of them.

    Easiest plan:

    Pull the gifted program out and plop it into NTA where you can have the same separation you have now at South Loop. Gifted parents and kids will need to find their way ten blocks further south but they still have their exclusive program. For after school they can be bused back to South Loop the same way that many kids from other schools are now.

    Valuable space would be made available at South Loop and we can all move onto some other worry.

  • 63. jjjjSLS  |  October 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    This is funny:

    I am new to the dynamic/politics of CPS. I would hope that political turfwars don’t injure our kids and SLS. I know Mayor Emanuel also visited SLS and used a 1st grader to highlight his education agenda. I would hope his praise of SLS didn’t end with him taking office.

    Why? First, few people (parents included) have the best interest of school children in mind. If they did there would be no gifted/non-gifted designation in the first place. Let’s just assume for argument sake that everybody has some other interest at the core of their argument AND they want to do what is right for the kids.

    Secondly, Mayor Emanuel sent his kids to the Lab School at the University of Chicago instead of choosing a public school to both set an example, practice what he is preaching and to improve the city schools. If the guy at the top won’t send his kids there I think you know what he is saying.

  • 64. SLS RGC K Parent  |  October 17, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    @63/63. jjjjSLS.
    I would have to disagree that the plans are overly complicated. They aren’t easy, but they do meet the needs of all SLS families/students. Further, SLS is already a multi-campus school with pre-k & K at the ECC (and possibly K & 1st grade there next year), so mult-campus isn’t something that is daunting for SLS, it’s done every day.
    I think I addressed the issues raised in post #60 and welcome feedback on it.

    Regarding my “funny” comment. I agree it’s naive, but if enough active SLS parents make a compelling case to aldermen, the mayor’s office and Bd of Ed, at least we can know we tried to save what the school is, before CPS makes drastic change. As far as the mayor sending his kids to Lab… it doesn’t change the fact he could still be an ally if SLS families made their case.

    Lastly, I am trying to make myself available and encourage people to think about ways to keep the current SLS going, instead of taking the easy out of kicking South Loop kids out of their school

  • 65. jjjjSLS  |  October 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Let me reiterate:

    I think the easiest AND best plan is to move the gifted program to NTA. By the time your kindergartner gets to 7th grade you won’t even remember that the neighborhood was once one of the most dangerous places in the world. It will have an El stop and should be totally safe no matter your hue or sensitivity level.

    Yes, technically you are right. However, when I say multi-campus I mean more than the campus and a half there is now.

    We’ll see what happens but given the urgency, ease of use and the players involved (da city) I think my plan works. Godspeed.

  • 66. anonymous  |  October 18, 2011 at 6:04 am

    #61, have you sat and observed an upper grade class at NTA and at SL for at least a week? If not, please do. You might be surprised at what you see.

  • 67. WestSidePops  |  October 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    @SLS RGC K Parent: I’m new to SLS and attended the LSC meeting last week. Though we got very few answers, the discussion was illuminating and glib remarks about “what’s best” (as if it were universal) were in short supply. It was good to hear so many voices acknowledge what is special about the school (combination of RGC and neighborhood) and their desire to preserve the culture. It’s quite possible that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I have a general sense of the demographic profile of a successful school (I’m sure someone out here knows the specifics) and SLS may do just fine without the RGC, but that is by no means guaranteed. Breaking the school in two risks destroying years of progress and hard work by many people and may not even resolve the problem. My conclusion from the LSC was that the current overcrowding problem at SLS has more to do with the lack of funding for teachers not physical space (though facilities are stretched). It’s not clear to me that shipping out the RGC and its teachers (28:1 student-teacher ratio) is going to relieve the 36:1 ratio in some of the neighborhood classes. In fact, a few neighborhood parents have children in the RGC who would presumably switch to the neighborhood class if the RGC is moved … thereby exacerbating the problem.

  • 68. jjjjSLS  |  October 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    You know, I forgot that no matter what the venue – be it smart parents here or dumb kids on Youtube – Internet comments are generally worthless. Mine included.

    You 67 start out saying “glib remarks about “what’s best” (as if it were universal) were in short supply” then make the completely wacky comment that you “have a general sense of the demographic profile of a successful school.” Really? Is that 98.4% Black like McDade Elementary or 31% White, 19% Black, 20% Hispanic and 28% Asian like Jackson A Elementary Language Academy? Is it…

    Anyway, let’s just all stop with our pronouncements on the world. If we were so smart we would have better things to do than comment here. Again, I include myself in that group of stupid.

  • 69. SLE KinderMom  |  October 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    When I toured SLE’s K program last fall, Ms. Shelton told our group that the difference between the test scores of the RGC students and Neighborhood students was very little, and she expected that trend to continue. So I’m thinking that the test scores won’t take as big a hit as people are thinking.

  • 70. WestSidePops  |  October 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @jjjjSLS: I agree with your last statement.

  • 71. Nervous at SLS  |  October 19, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Mrs. Shelton said a lot of things on those tours last year, many of which have turned out to be not at all true. (We aren’t going to remove gifted classes, the LSC and the board were supportive and working on the potential move to NTA, the afterschool program takes as many kids as it has interest from – it just hires more staff… I am sure I could list more.) My husband was at the LSC meeting last week, and he stayed afterwards to hear what was going on. Mrs. Shelton and the alderman’s office were led to believe totally different things about closing the RGC K class, and the principal and alderman for NTA have never been consulted about a potential move. Take it all for what you will, but if you are at SLS and want to see things stay and/or improve, stand up and be heard. Otherwise, the powers that be will just assume everything is A-ok.

  • 72. SLE KinderMom  |  October 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I was at the meeting in September and my husband was at the last one, so we are very much staying informed. And, it’s true she could be lying about the neighborhood test scores, but I don’t think so based on other conversations with her and teachers.

    I like jjjjSLS’s idea of moving the RGC to NTA. It would be an an easy most immediate solution.

  • 73. AngryJ  |  October 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    How China is winning the school race

    I throw this into the mix for the line: It got rid of the “key schools” system which concentrated resources only on top students and elite schools. Instead staff were trained in more interactive teaching methods and computers were brought in.

  • 74. Sliver  |  November 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    November 3, 2011

    Dear South Loop Families and Community,

    Due to the population growth of the surrounding neighborhood and the continuing academic achievements of our students, demand for enrollment at South Loop School has steadily increased over the last several years. Since 2009, two Growth Committees have worked with our school administration, CPS staff, and the school and neighborhood communities to discuss solutions to the issues of overcrowding and space constraints.

    Over the past weeks, I’ve been in further discussions with CPS district officials regarding these issues. CPS officials and I agreed to a final solution that best serves the needs of current South Loop School students and families.

    In my previous letter I stated that South Loop School would not admit a Kindergarten Regional Gifted Center (RGC) class for the 2012-13 school year. Today I announce that we will extend that strategy by permanently phasing out the South Loop School RGC program. Thus, over an eight-year period we will see a reduction in this source of enrollment pressure of approximately 28 students per year (one classroom) for a total reduction of 224 students (nine classrooms). Again, no new RGC students will be enrolled at South Loop School, but all current South Loop RGC students will be able to “graduate” out of South Loop School’s RGC program as eighth graders.

    In addition, beginning immediately and continuing through the 2012-2013 school year, I will institute a freeze on the admission of out-of-boundary siblings of current SLS students. After the 2012-2013 school years such admissions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    How to best use the space of our two buildings to serve our students for the 2012-2013 school year will be based on enrollment trends. Please note that at this time no final decisions have been made to move classrooms or grades. An updated plan will be distributed to all parents by June 2012.

    I’m sure these decisions will raise many questions. I’ve tried to anticipate some of these questions and added them to the bottom of this letter.

    If there are any additional questions I didn’t address below, please email me at At next weeks LSC meeting (November 9th) I will answer any submitted questions. I will also discuss my vision for the future of South Loop.

    Although the RGC has been an attractive asset to our school in previous years, I’m confident that we will continue to thrive and excel with our dedicated parents, teachers, and community. I hope you will embrace these changes and continue to make South Loop one of Chicago’s schools of choice.

    As always, I value your commitment to South Loop School. I appreciate the input I received these past months.

    Yours in education,

    Tara Shelton

    Frequently Asked Questions re: Phase out of Regional Gifted Center (RGC) at South Loop School (SLS)

    1. What happens to my child if he/she is currently in the South Loop School (SLS) Regional Gifted Center (RGC)? Will the resources be reduced over this 8 year phase out period?
    Your child will continue to receive the high quality education you are currently experiencing through his/her eighth grade graduation year. The RGC will not relocate to another site prior to the current kindergarten gifted students eighth grade year. Resources will not be reduced over the next 8 years. Our current teacher positions are board funded based on student enrollment. Reducing one gifted classroom per year will not result in the loss of a teacher position because the current neighborhood enrollment trend will balance the reduction of the one gifted classroom. This will continue throughout the phase out period depending on enrollment numbers.

    2. What are the plans for the branch building? Will the lower grades stay there?

    The Branch will continue to be fully utilized and yes, some lower grades will stay there. Which specific classrooms can not be determined until later in the school year when I have a more accurate idea of the student enrollment for 2012-2013? The decision will be provided by June 2012.

    3. If I live out of the boundary and I have a child in either the RGC or Neighborhood class (via lottery), will my other child be able to attend SLS via a lottery program?

    For 2012-2013 school year out of boundary siblings will not be accepted for enrollment. For 2013-2014 school year out of bound siblings will be accepted again based on available space.

    4. Will there be any lottery at all for the 2012-2013 school year?

    There will not be any lottery for 2012-2013 school year.

    5. Are there plans to reinstate the RGC at SLS at some point in the future?

    At this time I can only anticipate that if there is a need for SLS to reinstate the RGC, CPS will be open for this discussion. However, South Loop School will continue to thrive as a hybrid school and continue to build its neighborhood program.

    6. Are there any plans of moving the middle school to a different location in the future?

    There are no plans to move the middle school to a different location in the future. At this time it is my priority to keep our current families housed in two locations only: Main Building and the Branch. Three locations would be difficult to manage. The K-8 model we currently have has a proven record of excellent student preparation demonstrated by the high rate of placement of our 8th graders in selective enrollment high schools.

    7. Is there a target enrollment level that are expected with these changes?

    Based on our current trend of neighborhood enrollment, I expect we will continue to enroll three neighborhood classrooms of kindergarten for the next several years. Another option available to South Loop if our enrollment ever drops is to accept applications through our Magnet Cluster Lottery program. This program allows South Loop to accept students citywide through our Fine Arts Magnet option.

    8. Were any other options considered by CPS?

    Yes. For the last two to three years, we have been actively engaged in discussions with families as well as CPS. We discussed moving specific grades to other locations, moving the entire RGC to another location, reducing enrollment in incoming Kindergarten and/or preschool classes, and changing the boundaries, among other options. Based on the continued concern expressed by some parents about neighborhood class size, it was determined that phasing out the RGC would provide the space needed to accommodate the neighborhood growth. This was a difficult decision to come to, but the result will be less disruptive to SLS families, children and staff than the other options and allow SLS to continue to serve K-8 with excellence.

  • 75. WestLooper  |  November 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I don’t know a lot of the details at SLS, but this seems like a very short-sighted decision. If you’ve got a good thing going, find a way to make it work.

  • 76. MarketingMom  |  November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Do you know if they have the Options for Knowledge booklets available anywhere yet?

  • 77. cpsobsessed  |  November 7, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Forgot to mention, I heard from OAE that the guides shipped to the Harold Washington library last week so they should be at the branches this week.

    At my library (Sultzer) it seems that they are usually in the kid section and only the kid-section librarian knows what they are.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 78. kate  |  November 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Westlooper – i know you gave disclaim about “knowing” the SLS details but…. what’s good about a neighborhood school having deal with enormous class sizes because the “gifted” program is housed in their bldg?
    Depending on neighborhood demand at Coonley, could they be next to make this difficult decision?
    I applaud the ‘neighborhood friendly’ decision, good luck SLS!

  • 79. Coonley mom  |  November 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Does anyone know the size of the 7th and 8th grade options classrooms at South Loop. I have heard through the grapevine that there is a ‘brain drain’ and many students leave for Whitney or Ogden at that point. If true, I wonder if that played at all into the decision.

  • 80. SLS parent  |  November 7, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    The RGC at SLS is still young. It began 9 years ago to entice parents to come and turnaround the school. Ideally, parents would be courageous enough to work to improve a school without ensuring their children the labels of “gifted” but it seems that exclusive programming is the one way “good” parents will gamble on CPS.
    The 7-8 grades at SLS are still representative of the RGC in its infancy. It has been labeled by some as fragile in several community meetings, hence the hesitation to move the middle school to its own, separate facility.
    Even now that the decision has finally been made there is continued dissention amoungst the school community. Without more space, something had to give. The gifted program is the only one to which the school does not have to offer slots. And with more neighborhood students choosing the school for its neighborhood curriculum, there is just no more room for a city wide program that can be housed anywhere. It is unfortunate that a succesful model had to be dismanteled, but the phase out is the least disruptive. Now the community needs to come to terms with the decision and move forward.

  • 81. Another SLS parent  |  November 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Maybe it is the least disruptive to your kid, but not to mine. There is no reason the RGC could not have been moved out. Instead, we get to put up with Shelton, who has taken it upon herself to move kids from neighborhood classrooms into RGC classrooms to alleviate crowding – way to flaunt the system. It is a giant thumbing of the nose to every family that tested their child for SEES, whether or not they got a space. You can either play by the rules, or you can move to one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city and donate even more money to the school, then your kid can get in. Ten years ago no one wanted to send their kids there – now they are falling all over themselves to push out the program that turned the school around.

  • 82. Yet another SLS parent  |  November 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    No one **has** to put up with anything. There is no contract that indicates you must stay. And if a couple of high achieving neighborhood kids overflow into the gifted classes, I’m sure your prodigy of a child will emerge relatively unscathed and continue on his/her way to unparalleled greatness.

  • 83. Yet Another SLS Parent  |  November 8, 2011 at 4:29 am

    @82 – lol, thank you, beautifully said! It’s time for SLS to offer challenging, creative curriculum to their own neighborhood classes. All of our children need to be able to test into magnet HS’s. There is no reason we can’t be on par with the Lincoln School.

  • 84. maria a.  |  November 8, 2011 at 10:45 am

    82, you’re the best. And here I will say it. South Loop may be high achieving, but the gist of their program is that they work one-two years ahead on traditional worksheets. There is very little critical thinking, creative projects, or generating of ideas. After 3 years of it, I got my child out of there and into a non-SE program that is giving her a far deeper level of learning. It’s hard for me to think that the closing of their RGC is a great loss. Think outside the box, people. And remember, that light that you think shines so brightly in your kid won’t be dimmed by regular contact with ordinary children. I promise!

  • 85. mom  |  November 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    wow. I am not an SLS parent, but wow. Why all the venom toward an RGC parent? I didn’t read 81’s post as meaning that s/he thought a child would be tainted (or the “light dimmed”) by contact with “ordinary” (whatever that means) children. If you don’t agree with the RGC system, that’s fine…but don’t spew such unnecessary venom at those who do. All you have to do is just not send your child to an RGC. The bitterness is really uncalled for.

    If the principal is not following the rules re: who should be in the RGC program, I would be very pissed….especially if I were one of the hundreds of parents whose child tested well, but not well enough to get an RGC spot. A good friend of mine (whose neighborhood school was failing, really failing) had to sell her house at a HUGE financial loss and move….and her son had tested really well (I don’t know his exact score, but she referred to it as “98th percentile”). If she knew that an RGC was somehow managing to take neighborhood kids, I’m sure she’d be pissed as hell. If there’s room in that RGC for neighborhood kids, there should have been room for more of the kids whose only other CPS option was far worse than being in an overcrowded SLS classroom.

  • 86. Not a RGC hater  |  November 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I wrote #83 and I am both a RGC and Neighborhood (in boundary) mom at South Loop School. I have no hatred toward the RGC. It’s that I get so tired of the gifted argument and the sense of entitlement from some of these parents.

    As SLS has become more successful (meaning high-acheiving and involved parents send their children to the neighborhood program), SLS works to blend the two programs in and out of the classroom. We are one school and work for the common good and education of all students. I understand that this may not be attractive to RGC purists, but it works.

    I guess the other option would be to isolate the RGC students and consistently tell them how special they because they scored well on a 10 minute test last January. But just don’t let them know that there may be 80 kids at the school who scored as well–or better–than the RGC kids on the test but didn’t make it in because of where they live (or don’t live), had a bad testing day, etc.

    The whole thing is nonsensical and indicative of a broken CPS system. Good teachers and good schools make good students. (And there is the obvious link with family involvement, etc.)

    Look at successful magnet programs (A. Jackson) where any random kid from the city who is lucky enough to get in can succeed. Same with private schools. Wealthy people aren’t smarter. People just get all wound up when there is a barrier of entry and then the sense of entitlement gets out of hand.

    Anyway, neighborhood kids will not be taking away slots from RGC kids. The issue at hand during the transition is that no RGC applications for any grades will be accepted in the coming years at South Loop. As such, it is probable that RGC class sizes will dwindle due to people choosing other options, moving, etc. That said, the vacancies will likely be filled by transferring high performing students from the neighborhood classrooms (with 35+ students) into the RGC classrooms with small enrollment numbers.

    This Utilitarian system might not be best for all but it is what it is.

  • 87. Not a RGC hater  |  November 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Sorry #83, I meant I wrote #82…..

  • 88. Clout SLC gifted seats?  |  November 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    If SLC is indeed filling gifted spaces without going through the correct protocol, that’s an issue for Chicago’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson. In fact, I’ll personally make sure he hears about this allegation.

    How is anyone to know that those spaces are given out based on the famous Chicago Clout system?

  • 89. maria a.  |  November 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    85, I suppose it isn’t so apparent here, but much of the discussion among the parents of my RGC child’s class has focused on the fear of neighborhood kids being brought into our classroom. After spending enough years at SLS, and getting to know many children and parents in the neighborhood program, I find it unsettling and distasteful that this is their big fear. And parents ARE speaking in terms of the “light” that shines in their gifted children. They’re worried that the curriculum will be watered down to accomodate the slower children from the neighborhood program.
    There are more valid issues at hand for sure. I think we can focus on those. There is no need for all the divisive rhetoric. The neighborhood and RGC are a lot less different than some parents may think.

  • 90. bookworm  |  November 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I wish that CPS wouldn’t pit parents against each other. The scarcity of good options pits us all against each other. Seems that SL could use a good professional mediator or other help as just the posts here are pretty toxic. I shudder to think how difficult for everyone this is no matter which program children attend.
    The loss of a gifted program creates fewer of these options for more families around the city. Why not just spilt the program and move the gifted center to a viable terrific place and let the kids choose either to move with the gifted program or to matriculate into the neighborhood program if they are already in the school and wish to stay? Many of the early gifted parents must have helped build what is a successful program now. When we moved to Chicago families mostly shunned South Loop. It seems scary to think of how this devolves over time. Who could stand a slow eight year death of a good program.
    Seems that the gifted families have contributed to the success of everyone as well.
    Magnet and gifted programs– especially long term ones– are important city wide resources built, grown and tended by families from near and far. Much of the funding that created specialized programs was born of grants specifying that the funds are used to create schools available to children from all over the city.

  • 91. No need  |  November 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Sadly, bookworm, there is no need for mediation because all of the talk and chatter here is absolutely meaningless. Sure, mean spirited in that faceless way Internet comments are but still meaningless. The parents can spew all they want but the bottom line is either there will not be an RGC once the current kindergartners graduate and SL will be all neighborhood or the program will move. It matters not that some high flying (minority) kid got into the (white) gifted program without taking the test. It matters not that some (not quite gifted enough) kids had to go to the lowly (minority) neigborhood program. It just matters that there is not enough space in the school for those who live in the area thus the city wide program must cease or go. Simple. No need for mediation. Besides, there is no bigger group of assholes than parents. i feel sorry for any mediator who dare try to get them to see anyone other than their precious Jarome/Keisha or Jason/Kim. Gotta hate them (us).

  • 92. Restate the problem and offer a solution leaving out the rhetoric  |  November 8, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I have read all of the replies here and the post on class size disparities ( I think you guys need to all forget the thread and start over with the essential problem:

    All classes at South Loop Elementary should be 28 or fewer students. They are not. How do you get them to 28 or less?

    The kids await your answers.

  • 93. Still can't make it work  |  November 9, 2011 at 1:32 am

    I think some of the folks forget that the whole issue with class size is that “Student achievement increases significantly in classes of fewer than 20. Smaller classes, complemented by diverse teaching methods, create better student performance, more positive attitudes, and fewer discipline problems.”

    If classes are currently hovering around 40 and only one room per grade will open up then class sizes will still be over this number. I guess what I am saying is, if you can’t get to 20 you might as well keep the RGC where it is.

  • 94. cps grad  |  November 9, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    @88 I know for a fact that 8th graders from the neighborhood class at South Loop were moved into the 8th grade gifted class. I believe in the best education for all but as typical with CPS, they set down rules and then break them when convenient. In practice it probably was a good move, but in theory it is not. It is not fair to all us parents that are forced to lvie by CPS rules when it comes to everything else.

    As for attendance area rules: I have seen this over and over again with CPS. They set the boundaries but do virtually NOTHING to enforce. It is not up to the principal to enforce attendance boundaries. His or her hands are tied. CPS has a law office to “investigate” attendance area cases but what’s in it for them? Either way CPS has to educate the child so why would they spend thousands of dollars on investigations? This all leads back to the crux of the problem: students leaving their undesirable neighborhood schools in search of more desirable schools. In turn, the undesirable schools become even more undesirable. As long as CPS refuses to be strict with addresses, the quality and integrity of neighborhood schools will continue to be dimisnished.

    BTW, my 6th grade child has been in a class of 35 since 3rd grade at our neighborhood school. Took the issue to the principal, LSC, and alderman. Zero results. Thanks, guys!

  • 95. Thanks  |  November 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Did you think having 35 students has harmed your kid? I spoke to a friend of mine who graduated second in her high school class and she said she usually had 35 and decided it was all about the individual not the number of students.

  • 96. anonymous  |  November 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    A kid can be second in their graduating class because someone will always be first, second, third, etc.
    Large class sizes harm children in the following ways:
    Large classes have severely less differentiation. It is simply impossible to tailor instruction for big classes.
    Large classes get less feedback on work in quality and quantity.
    Large classes get way more “kill and drill” worksheets, lower level thinking skills and easier to grade work. They miss out on the coolest projects, the higher order thinking skills, the in depth class discussions, etc.
    It means the teacher can only meet with a reading group 1 time every two weeks instead of 2 times a week. Partly because she has to spend so much time minding the paperwork details of the day and managing the behavior of an overloaded room.

    Yes, you can get an okay education with a large class if you are a motivated kid. But you will never get an awesome education with a large class size no matter how motivated you are.
    Small class sizes mean that the advanced 1st graders can collaborate on making a double digit subtraction board game from scratch with posterboard and other provided materials while the teacher sits on the rug with 5 other first graders who still don’t know the difference between numbers and letters. And then the rest of the class can do stations of math centers.

    If there was only one thing I was allowed to change about CPS as an educator it would be limiting class sizes. No primary classroom should ever be over 20. In fact, I really think K-3 should max out at 15, and 4-8 should be limited to 20. I meet with 6 different reading groups in my classroom. If I only had 3 groups I could actually see each group 2-3 times per week. As it is, on a good week I can see each group one time. And I am lucky to have less than 30 kids. I have friends with 35+, one with nearly 40 in her kindergarten room. Imo, that gives new meaning to the word unethical on the part of our BOE.

  • 97. So...  |  November 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    We are never going to have classes of less than 20. Ever. So…now what?

  • 98. cpsobsessed  |  November 9, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    In the meeting with Brizard tonight (which I will write about tomorrow and was very interesting) the one time I gave him a look that implied “Come ON! You’ve got to be kidding me.” was when he said that there is no research to prove that smaller class rooms are better.

    I’m sorry, common sense dictates that big classes cannot be as effective for all the reasons @96 states above.

    Also, it’s just not fair to have some classes in a school be 28 while others are 35 in the same grade.

    I am sure that good teachers can handle 35 kids and I’m sure that when other factors are working in your favor that it can work ok.

    Supposedly kids during the baby boom had 50 kids per classroom. They went on to thrive and take over the country. So granted, it won’t “ruin” a kid. But nobody can convince that me it’s just fine because no research proves otherwise.

  • 99. anonymous  |  November 10, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Just because we will never have class sizes of 20 doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim for that. We are never going to get 100% of our students meeting standards either. But we have to at least try. Let me be clear, I know that this city doesn’t value students or education enough to ensure class sizes of 20. People pay for what they value, end of story. We as a collective city do not value it enough. But just because it will never happen doesn’t mean it isn’t the right or best thing to do. In lieu of primary classrooms of 20, for the love of god, CPS (and by default the entire city) should be paying for full time teaching assistants in K-1.

  • 100. So...  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:18 am

    I could not disagree with you more. We should spend our energies trying to reach attainable goals. As you say, we don’t value kids/education that much so we need to shift our focus. So…

  • 101. cps grad  |  November 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    @96 Thank you for all your support! 35 in a class is too high, not to mention it being against fire code. In the older grades it is less significant but in grades 1-5 it is not the optimal environment for learning or teaching. Especially if you throw in behavioral problems, and with LRE, we see lots of those. the teacher is so busy putting out fires, the cooperative kids miss out on instructional time.

  • 102. anon  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    If 37 kids are in a class and you complain that is considered whining? If some of those 37 kids who are in the neighborhood programs live outside the boundaries and were knowingly let in by the principal as a “favor” and you complain that is considered whining? I don’t think pointing out the truth is whining. People with nothing to hide, hide nothing, and SL seems like an administration that hides a lot and then when it is revealed plays dumb.

  • 103. KMKM  |  November 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    @98: I was talking to my mom this week about my concerns that by the time my 3- and 2-year-old boys are in K, that the class sizes will be 35+. We are in Coonley boundaries and I am grateful the boys are in line to attend a school that is considered to be strong, but looking around the neighborhood and seeing kids, kids and more kids, I have NO idea where they will put them all.

    Anyway my mom, who is a boomer, told me that she had almost 60 in her classes and they did all right. Although she did also mention that the kids in her class feared both their parents and the nuns, so that at least kept the class from descending into chaos.

    I’m not sure even a “good” neighborhood school is right for my boys (one currently shy, one currently rambunctious) at 30+ kids. But I guess I’ve got another 1.5 years to see how my kids and the school change.

  • 104. Nervous at SLS  |  November 22, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Maybe is SLS would help *relocate* the RGC for next year, it would actually help the problem, even if just the younger grades moved. It would open up physical classroom space to allow the 2 large 1st grades to split back into three. Hanging on to the RGC makes things worse rather than better for a while.

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