Approximately 6,400 parents and community representatives will run for local school council spots this month, due in part to a recruiting effort by parent advocacy groups and an extended filing deadline granted by Chicago Public Schools.
Only one of nearly 600 schools, Reavis Elementary, 834 E. 50th St., does not have enough candidates for an election, says Jose Alvarez, chief officer of CPS Local School Council Relations.
Elections will be held April 16 for high school LSCs and April 17 for elementary school LSCs. The term of office for LSC members is two years, with the new term beginning July 1.
LSCs consist of six parents, two community representatives, two teachers and the school principal. The councils have the authority to hire and fire their school's principal and work on the school's financial plan. High school LSCs also consist of a student representative.
Teacher and student reps are appointed by the Board of Education.
When the original deadline for election filing passed March 12, only 5,500 parents and community reps had filed for 6,000 spots. Fifty-nine schools did not have enough candidates, which would have left those schools with no LSCs. That's when Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) and other advocacy groups began a recruiting drive.
Julie Woestehoff, executive director of PURE, says the Chicago
Board of Education's controversial decision in February to turn
around eight schools and to close or consolidate 11 others may have
affected the LSC numbers.
The controversial proposals led to picket lines in front of the CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St., and shouting at board meetings and 19 public hearings.
"It brought some attention to the whole situation," Woesterhoff says. "People would see that and might say, 'Who needs that?' "The six turnaround schools, including three schools being transitioned into one larger school at Orr High School, will all have elected LSCs, Alvarez says. But those councils would not have the same power as a normal LSC for five years, or until the school loses its probationary status.
Alvarez says the CPS will look into the reason for a lack of
interest in the LSC at Reavis. The school has not previously had
trouble filling an LSC, according to Woestehoff.
The school could operate without an LSC until the next election, in April 2010. Or it could hold a special election to fill the LSC slots.
LSC election timeline
Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.