Rush is on for LSC nominees

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • March 20, 2008 @ 7:55 AM

Less than a week before an extended deadline for Local School Council nominations passes, advocacy groups are scrambling to get parents signed up.

The original filing deadline for 6,000 LSC spots was March 12. Approximately 5,500 parents and community representatives filed nomination forms, says Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education.

Today, that number stands at 6,000, says Jose Alvarez, chief officer for Chicago Public Schools Office of Local School Council Relations. CPS was expecting 8,500 nominations.

The pool of candidates is not large enough to fill all of the city's Local School Council positions. According to a list compiled by PURE, 59 schools did not have enough candidates to form a council for the new two-year period which begins July 1.

That list is on PURE's website. It includes Copernicus Elementary, a school designated for turnaround status by CPS; Abbott Elementary, which escaped consolidation last month at the recommendation of a public-hearing officer; and Marshall, Hancock and Harlan high schools. Most of the 59 schools had no parents or community representatives file nomination forms on time; seven others had just one parent signed up.

In 2006, 7,000 candidates ran for 6,000 spots.

PURE members have been on a recruiting campaign this month, on the phone and in person, to get LSC candidates lined up. Wednesday, PURE and the South Austin Coalition Community Council held an "LSC 101" class, with the intent of giving an overview of LSCs and signing up candidates.

If a school has no council, Woestehoff says, "It effectively turns the LSC's power over to the CPS office."

The PURE office at 100 S. Morgan St., will accept nomination forms until 2 p.m. Monday, at which time it will deliver them to the CPS Central Office. Nomination forms are also posted on the CPS website. Alvarez said nominations will also be accepted Monday at schools.

LCS election forums are scheduled to begin March 26. Elections will be held April 16 for high school LSCs and April 17 for elementary school LSCs.

Elementary school councils consist of six parents, two community representatives, two teachers and the school principal. High school councils also have a student representative. Teacher and student reps are appointed by the Board of Education.

The councils have the authority to hire or file a principal and approve the school's budget.

PURE is also involved in a lawsuit against the CPS for turning three small-school LSCs into appointed advisory councils instead of elected ones. PURE says that is a violation of state law; the CPS is asking the Circuit Court to dismiss the case. Arguments will be heard March 27.

Paul Bowker can be reached at bowkerpaul1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.