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August 25, 2010 Chicago Board of Education meeting report

"Shame on YOU. Shame on YOU. Shame on YOU," chanted a large group of protesters marching across the street from the Board of Education (BOE) building at 125 S. Clark Street before its monthly meeting on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. The chants, amplified by a megaphone, could be easily heard by pedestrians and drivers as they approached the BOE building. The "shame" was the firing of more than a thousand school employees, teachers, instructional coaches, vision and hearing testers, and many others who work directly with children.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis again explained why CPS had to change its budget priorities and why the union's 30,000 members, represented by their delegates, had voted unanimously to reject the Board's request for "concessions." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.At around 10:00 A.M., the protesters began popping the red and blue balloons they held, creating a popping sound, similar to the sound of a car back-firing, or to those more familiar with an urban environment, similar to the sounds of shots being fired.

Inside the Board headquarters, many displaced, tenured teachers prepared to give testimony to their shattered lives during the public participation portion of the meeting. Those teachers, joined by parents who were concerned about the effects of that loss on their children and other issues, had to wait nearly an hour and a half to speak because the meeting was reformatted by Mary Richardson-Lowry, President of the Board of Education.

Instead of beginning the meeting with the usual public participation and then proceeding to Board reports, the meeting began at 10:52 A.M. with an hour-and-a-half discussion of the budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010-2011. Public participation was to follow the discussion of the new draft of the Board budget, then questions would be asked by Board members, followed by a long closed session, which would focus on lawsuits, settlements, real estate and personnel. The results of any decisions made in the closed session would follow that closed session.

Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman (above left) spent an hour explaining his latest version of the $6.5 billion CPS budget for 2010 - 2011 while a skeptical audience listened. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Three budget hearings were held between August 17 and August 19. They took place at Lane Tech (August 17), Westinghouse (August 18), and Corliss high schools. Members of the Board of Education were not present at those meetings to hear from the public, nor was any member of Ron Huberman's senior executive staff except staff of the financial office. Depending upon the night, a few odd $100,000-per-year bureaucrats, and the CPS security chief were also present, according to Substance reporters who covered all three events. Although CPS officials had promised everyone who testified at the budget hearings that their questions would be answered on the CPS website, no one could find the answers at the time of the August 25 Board meeting, a week after the hearings.

Because they had failed, again, to listen to the public during the budget hearings, the members of the Board — and Huberman himself — were supposedly provided with transcripts of the hearings, questions, and remarks made at the meetings. As of August 27, the Board had not made the transcripts public, and the promised answers to the questions raised by dozens of people were nowhere to be found on the Board's website (www.cps.edu).

The Board at its August 25 meeting thus needed an opportunity to digest and review the budget information, so the format for the Board meeting was changed. Despite the fact that the Board meeting announcement said that public participation would begin at 10:30, it was delayed by almost two hours. Five Board members — Peggy Davis, Alberto Carrero, Jr., Clare Munana and Roxanne Ward — were present at this meeting on August 25 to ask questions when the meeting began. Board member Dr. Tariq Butt arrived part way through the meeting and joined the discussion. Board member Norman Bobins was not present at any point.

Like most of their privileged colleagues, Barbara Bowman (left) and Diana Zanjadas (hand on chin) found time to read novels or cruise their Blackberries while teachers spoke at the August 25 Board of Education meeting and Ron Huberman proclaimed how much sacrifice the Board's bureaucracy had endured because of the budget "deficit." Bowman is a $132,000 per year consultant to CPS who is at every Board meeting in the executive section, while Zanjades is in charge of bilingual education at more than $150,000 per year. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.President Richardson-Lowry said the Board is obliged to have a balanced budget. It is a statutory requirement. She expressed concern about drawing down the reserve fund of $190 million. She mentioned that drawing down that fund is not consistent with fiscal responsibility and alternative plans are needed.

Next, President Richardson-Lowry remarked that the regular school year begins on September 7. Any questions parents have should be addressed to Barbara Lumpkin, recent CPS acquisition from Mayor Daley's staff who now holds the office of Chief Officer for External Relations. Before the regular school year begins, there will be a Back-to-School event at Humboldt Park on Saturday, August 28. One or more Board members will be present. The Board will be looking for a replacement Student Honorary Board member. That person must be a Junior or Senior with a 3.0 grade point average and 95 per cent attendance rate, who has held an elective office and displayed leadership ability, Richardson - Lowry said. Applications are due September 17, and the chosen student will be seated at the October Board meeting. More information is available online at www.cps.edu.

Following these remarks by President Richardson-Lowry, mention was made of schools visited in the last few weeks, turnarounds, improving safety, food upgrades, class size, restoration of bilingual positions, layoffs brought about by "no other choices because of the financial crisis", and the cost of educating a student. Then Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman took the podium, flanked by Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferguson and Chief Human Capital Officer Alicia Winckler, to present a report on the Proposed Budget 2010 - 2011.

Rod Estvan of Access Living Chicago, which advocates for disability rights, had prepared a lengthy (52-page) analysis of the CPS proposed budget with a focus on special education. Despite the fact that Huberman claimed that special education teachers and services were not being cut, special ed teachers (including Prescott Elementary School's Suzanne Dunn, standing behind Estvan above) testified at the Board and during the budget hearings that they had been terminated. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Ron Huberman, continuing his overstatements of the situation, told the Board that "in January, a billion dollar deficit was projected."

The fact was, at no time beginning January 19, when he first brought a Power Point claiming the "deficit" would be $900 million, did Huberman ever say the Board was facing that billion dollar deficit. Yet by the summer of 2010, six months after he first reported that the projected "deficit" was $900 million, Huberman wrote in the Proposed Budget and told the Board that it had been a "billion dollars."

He said that this will affect health care and pension payments. He said that Chicago is the only district in the state required to make pension payments, ignoring the special history of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and the impact of the "pension pickup" that CPS agreed to to end the 1980 strike. The April 2010 vote in the Illinois General Assembly to allow CPS to avoid $1.2 billion in payments owed to the CTPF was not placed in any historical context.

On August 9, Huberman said, the "Proposed Budget 2010 - 2011" was available online at www.cps.edu. Huberman also mentioned the Federal funds sent through the state under the Education Jobs Act of August 2010. Huberman said that the state says it will send through to the Board of Education when the dollars are sent to the state. Right now, they don't have the federal funds or know when they will arrive, he said, "perhaps in November or December." He claimed that CPS couldn't spend the money (estimate to be about $106 million) until it was received. Huberman said that cuts at Central Office and Districts include no merit increases for two years in a row and ten unpaid furlough days plus six original furlough days.

Parent Matthew Johnson (above wearing an ersatz noose around his neck) charged that CPS officials were destroying the black community. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.He said that for principals and assistant principals, there will be no "merit" increases also. Diane Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), then spoke about what she called the "difficult and painful" choices facing the Board this year. She told the Board members and the public the fact that the budget is an "estimate, not an actual expenditure," and that the Board cannot spend in excess of its revenues. She added that the Board cannot borrow money to balance the budget. She was referring to the fact that the $800 million "Line of Credit" the Board approved at its special meeting on June 15 is not new revenue, it's a loan that must be repaid. The $800 million can be used to cover fluctuations and timing delays, she said. Right now, the Board is soliciting bids for the $800 million Line of Credit, she said.

TIF districts were touched on in the executive presentation. If a surplus in TIF moneys is declared, the CPS would receive it. Now, TIFS are used for construction and expansion projects, such as playgrounds.

Alicia Winckler, Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO?), told of the thousands of employees who have been hurt by the financial crisis, Central Office, Citywide, Non-union Central Office, Principals and Assistant Principals (who will receive no annual increase and be given six furlough days), 1,050 teachers, 200 instructional coaches, and 500 educational support personnel. She said that medical benefits of employees that have been let go have been extended one month beyond the layoff date, followed by Cobra. Six days have been turned into service for pension enhancement. Job fairs were scheduled for July and August. Six hundred displaced teachers came, but there were only sixty vacancies. Letters were sent to principals regarding National Board Certified teachers.

Huberman and the other officials claimed that "forty per cent" of National Board Certified teachers have been placed in open vacancies and fifty percent of the coaches have been placed in open vacancies, Huberman claimed. But he did not present numbers — only percentages — so members of the public skeptical of his word were forced to take his word for it.

The good news, they claimed, is that the federal jobs bill would allow the Board to rescind high school layoffs because of class size. More will be known about this later this week. Seniority will be taken into account, they claimed. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was asked to share the burden of the "defcit," Huberman said, but CTU delegates at the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting of the CTU on Wednesday, August 11, voted unanimously to reject this. Huberman said he was deeply disappointed in this refusal to share, but only one speaker, a parent from one of America's wealthiest communities, supported him later during the meeting.

Board Member Roxanne Ward then asked about the exhaustion of reserve funds and whether the $106 million will be used to restore postions in the high schools. Chief Education Officer (CEO) Ron Huberman said replenishment is dependent on state funding. He remarked that if the state paid its bills, we wouldn't have to draw on funds. He added that the Board of Education pays its bills. The state intends to pay. However, it is late, approximately six months behind. He added that we don't know what the state will do regarding the Federal Jobs Bill. Funds could be used to restore class sizes and bilingual and hold the line on other restorations, but we cannot make any other recommendations right now. Additional questions were asked by Board members Alberto Carrero, Jr., Peggy Davis, Dr. Tariq Butt and Clare Munana, regarding the restoration of bilingual teachers, the timing issue, the BOE's approach to the funding of charter schools, the weighing-in of the Civic Federation, and the return of the National Board Certified teachers.

They were told principals will be encouraged to hire displaced teachers with attention to seniority and certification. Dr. Richard Smith, the new chief of special education, said there will be no cuts in Special Education due to funding cuts because these programs are mandated; therefore, we don't have a choice whether or not to fund these programs. President Richardson-Lowry added that funding is not the basis for cuts in this area. "Programmatic changes" are.

Dr. Butt was told that the per-pupil funding allotment for charter schools is six per cent less than the current school year per-pupil amount. Ms. Munana was told that the Civic Federation endorsed our budget and considered it a balanced budget based on reasonable assumptions — and that fewer than twenty National Board Certified teachers still needed to be placed. Ms. Munana then announced that there was an interest in having the budget posted in Spanish and was told a summary and key sections will be published in Spanish.

At 12:15 P.M., the latest time ever, public participation began.

Clarice Berry, head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, was concerned about what she called "Letter Number Two" — received on the previous Friday at 12:45 P.M. Principals and assistant principals were informed that they would receive no raises this year. She charged "We do the heavy lifting in this system!" Berry told the Board that Huberman had suggested a ridiculous policy that would force many principals to retire in January — in the middle of the school year! — because of the pension impact of the furlough days. Huberman had no answer for Berry's criticisms, which she also made outside the Board chambers during a press conference which was subsequently ignored by most of Chicago's corporate media.

Katerina Kouzoukas, a parent, thanked the Board for its support regarding the resolution about incoming kindergarten enrollment and personal/medical family circumstances. President Richardson-Lowry wished her good luck with her health.

Karen Lewis, President of the CTU, said that when the Union's negotiating team met with the Board's, there was no compromise on the part of the Board. The CTU House of Delegates then held a unanimous vote in response. She said when the Board is asked, will you say no more layoffs if there are more moneys, the answer is always NO. United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that the money is to be used to rehire laid-off teachers, but at the Job Fairs, teachers are told by principals that they cost too much. Ms. Lewis said corporate taxes could be raised. When she was told that the CTU is not sharing in the sacrifice, she replied, "We sacrifice every day."

Tiffany Witkowski and Jonathan Johnson, of the Education Council Mikva Challenge, told of spending the summer reading articles on technology because we need to know how to utilize 21st century technology and remarked that their research is student-based data. Mr. Johnson spoke of making workshops for teachers interesting and of the use of You-Tube. He added that cell phones should be allowed during passing periods. He cautioned that there should be videos on the consequences of sexting. They are to meet with CEO Huberman September 1, 2010. President Richardson-Lowry told them that we appreciate your very detailed report, which will take time to digest. She added, "We are receptive to your ideas about technology."

Cezar Simeon had been placed on the DO NOT HIRE list. He wants this revoked and added that the BOE should establish a fair policy regarding placing such a mark on a teacher's record. Mr. Simeon was a first grade teacher who had obtained grants. When his first principal retired, a new principal terminated him in a year. He found out his status when another principal tried to hire him. President Richardson-Lowry referred this to Patrick Rocks, Chief Counsel.

Sybil Miller, of Marquette School, was a probationary assigned teacher (PAT) who was told she would be fired if she filed a grievance against the principal. She filed anyway. She was fired. She was told she is on the DO NOT HIRE list. She was with the Board more than eleven years. She wants the DO NOT HIRE status resolved. President Richardson-Lowry referred this to Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks.

Kathleen Katsoudas, of Cesar Chavez School, told of her wrongful dismissal. She said the principal had gotten rid of about 30 percent of the staff at Chavez. Although she had an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement, it was not good enough. Teachers were told that they had to have a bilingual endorsement by the June 30th deadline, which at the time was a month away. In addition, the School Improvement Plan (SIPPA) was written by the Principal. National Board Certified teachers were let go. Four hundred thirty-six parents signed that they do not want their children taught in Spanish. Ms. Katsoudas asked that dismissed/released teachers be restored. President Richardson-Lowry referred this to Alicia Winckler, Chief Human Capitol Officer (CHO).

Rosa Gomez, mother of students at Whittier School, asked the Board not to demolish, but to rebuild, the Whittier Field House. Gema Gaeta translated Gomez's remarks, which had been delivered in Spanish. She said that Whitter parents do not agree with the decision to demolish the field house, and that the decision had been made by Pat Taylor, whose title is "Chief Operations Officer". She asked that it be remodeled instead. She said that the 400 students at Whittier have no library.

Ms. Gaete added that there is money for the Mount Greenwood expansion, but the field house is being taken away from Whittier. She told of the painting, renovating, and pro-bono rehab work being done. Seven hundred signatures in support of the rehabilitation of the field house have been collected in three days. She remarked that the $350,000 allocated for demolition should be used for rehab. CEO Huberman mentioned that many thousands are allocated for lockers, electricity, a parent room, a computer room and a science room, adding that a rat was seen during a visit. He added that since the field house is falling apart, new turf will be put in instead. Board Member Carrero added that the field house is a safety issue and that a better playground is planned. Board Member Munana, who toured the school twice, agreed with him. CEO Huberman said that we are open to pro-bono work. When Ms. Gaete tried but was not allowed to add another comment, President Richardson-Lowry said, "You're finished. Since you have children with you, it's important that you behave with a little bit of decorum."

Jerry Skinner, a coach at Kelvyn Park High School who won championships, was laid off and honorably dismissed. PATs were also let go. He said that, according to state law, a thirty-day notice must be given prior to the end of the school year. He asked when the Board will begin using the hundred million in federal money — and will it be used solely to save teachers' jobs. President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to address that timeline. CEO Huberman replied that we have begun rescission of lay-off notices, including Track E later this week, even though no notification has yet been received from the state. Chief Counsel Rocks added that we will research it.

Martin Romo, of Everett School, said that the school was supposed to be remodeled. He thanked the Board for fixing the roof and added that the bathrooms are from 1946 and water runs 24 hours a day.

Rosa Ortiz, also of Everett School, spoke of child neglect at the school, because the school went on Track E during the heat of August, and the children were suffering. She said the school, serving 350 students, has no air-conditioning. Children were denied water and had headaches. An 8 year-old who developed a rash went to the office to call her mother. Another threw up. Still another child suffered an asthma attack and the doctor said the child almost died. In response, the parent mentioned that child who went to the office was told by the principal I have a headache, too, but I'm not crying like a baby A teacher who was asked for a correct phone number said to wait till the end of the day. CEO Huberman said the Chief Area Officer (CAO) will follow up. Board Member Munana added that it's been a hot summer. CEO Huberman told the parent that the Board will obtain air-conditioners on rollers. President Richardson-Lowry told her the Board will follow up. (By the end of the public participation at the BOE, when this reporter and another reporter left the Board meeting, they felt very cold because of the excessive air-conditioning in the room.)

Shawnta Robins, a student at Percy Julian High School and on the Safety Council at Mikva Challenge, expressed concern about the security officers and their job description, hiring, training, and evalution and impact on the school culture.

Cory Alford, also of the Mikva Challenge Safety Council, added that key members of the community want to start a dialog between students and security officers to improve the school. President Richardson-Lowry directed CEO Huberman to have staff work with them. She said we want to have you at the table to focus on best practices and report back in two months. At this point, Board Secretary Estela Beltran announced the one hour mark would be reached in five minutes, with thirty speakers left.

Linda Hudson, of Black Elementary School, wanted to know what does No Child Left Behind really mean? Her child was supposed to be in seventh grade next year. Even though his Math score was not good enough and Reading is his best subject, He was placed in a Reading Institute for the summer. He received four 0s in four assignments for talking. He must now repeat sixth grade. The teacher said several conferences were held about the talking, but the parent said no phone calls came from the teachers. Then, on the last day of school, Ms. Hudson said the teacher said she was failing him because he was talking during three tests. When President Richardson-Lowry referred Ms. Hudson to Flavia Henderson, the parent said Ms. Henderson never returned my calls. She was told Ms. Henderson is here today. They left to continue the discussion in the hall.

Sunny Neater-Dubow, a National Board Certified Teacher, International Baccalaureate (IB) Certified, winner of numerous grants and member of the Museum of Contemporary Arts, who has seven years of experience with the Chicago Public Schools received a letter from her principal that she was to be let go. She now has no benefits and cannot afford COBRA or her mortgage because they are too expensive. President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to respond. He told her we will talk to you in the next 24 hours and we'll get you placed. We hire the very best teachers from the candidate pool.

Norine Gutekanst, Chicago Teachers Union, said $100,000,000 in concessions were asked for in negotiations. The pension payments have been affected when Senate Bill 1946 was passed in March, there is chaos in the Track E and other schools because teachers don't know if they're coming back, and Mayor Daley controls the TIF districts and aspects. She said $350,000,000 should be returned to the schools, asking, "Will you request that Mayor Daley return a surplus in the TIF funds?" President Richardson-Lowry replied, "We have no authority, no control regarding TIF funds." She added that we have the desire to have the most talented teachers returned to the schools (National Board Certified teachers). Ms. Gutekanst added that every Board member knows the Mayor and it is your duty to advocate on behalf of the students.

Sarah Vance, of Robeson High School, spoke of class sizes at Robeson. She said individual attention will no longer be available and chaos and confusion will result because of too many children in one room. She mentioned that Advanced Placement (AP) classes will help me get into college. However, some students (Track E) feel cheated out of a break and are waiting to return to school, affecting the reorganization that takes place after the 20th day.

Ahaski Cusick, also of Robeson, told how the Culture of Calm is working. She said the first day of school was quiet and Robeson was finally becoming a learning community. She asked that 20th day reorganization be changed to the 40th day.

Leah Kohl, a third-year teacher at Robeson in Englewood, said there is a sense of calm this year because of the Culture of Calm. The current enrollment is lower than projected last Spring and home visits have increased enrollment. She remarked that the 20th day count occurs before all students have returned and asked that the Board hold off reorganization until after the 20th day of the regular track. President Richardson-Lowry told Ms. Kohl that she thought she was a student due to her youthful appearance. She added, "You have raised important issues in regard to Track E."

Carol Caref said educations should be about the students, not the money. Eighteen hundred were terminated, many with two weeks notice. The Federal government provided money to call them back. She wanted to know, "How do you justify terminating teachers while a new Jones High School is planned?" and "Why have you not declared a hiring freeze, as in New York City (NYC)?" President Richardson-Lowry directed this to CEO Huberman, who replied that there are different collective-bargaining contracts here and in NYC. He added NYC is not using the money to call back teachers. He said the information about Teach for America teachers is not true. They are not being hired in place of laid-off teachers and the new Jones High School will come about because of TIF dollars funding it. Ms. Caref added that NYC teachers were not laid off because NYC instituted a hiring freeze.

Matthew Johnson, of All Citizens for Matthew Johnson, talked about the field house and other issues. After adding the other issues, he put a noose around his neck and declared, "Now you're killing us with these papers - these made-up policies."

Whittier Elementary School teacher Nate Goldbaum (above left) mocked the Board and Huberman administration with a warning about letting "weasels" into the chicken coop. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Nathan Goldbaum, of Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), joked about weasel kids who grow up to be weasel lawyers who look for loopholes. He wanted to know when the Federal money is to be used to hire laid-off teachers. He said that we shouldn't chisel out on commitments, adding that once you let a weasel in the hen house, it will come back again and again. He also mentioned the pension payments that are not being made. President Richardson-Lowry told him "You spoke way more than people who had two minutes" and "You have a different perspective."

Rod Estevan, of Access to Living, talked about the unfunded mandate, the budget chaos this year, different projections this year, and that the numbers weren't stable. He said no one in Springfield knew the answers, we should be very careful in regard to bonds, and protect the reserve funds. President Richardson-Lowry mentioned a cautionary note in regard to derivatives. Mr. Estavan added that our property tax rate is very low in the city, mentioning a comparison to comparable property and how it is taxed more in Evanston. Ron Huberman had earlier singled out Mr. Estvan because Estvan had assisted the Board in lobbying in Springfield against proposals that would have hurt Chicago special education funding.

Lillian Pertecte, a displaced tenured teaacher from Kennedy High School, a College Career Coach had a principal who wanted to retain her. Ms. Pertecte went to job fairs and talked to numerous principals. She wants to be in a reassignment pool and mentioned Appendix H of the Contract between the BOE and the CTU. President Richardson-Lowry told her this is the subject of litigation and follow-up with the HCO will occur.

Constance Crossley, of Tilden High School, said students are more focused this year and machine shop and carpentry, etc., were not eliminated. Ja-Chi Wang, also of Tilden, who has taught Computer Science, ESL, Earth Science, and Math, said that the majority of the teachers in the past had problems about hallway issues, but not so this year. The students are on time, wear IDs, and wear uniforms. CEO Huberman told him, "Thank you for coming in. Tilden is a school on the move, on the rise." President Richardson-Lowry added, "We look forward to seeing Tilden as a destination school."

Gloria Prince, an eighteen-year employee, received her termination letter Friday. She is a Vision and Hearing Tester who was let go with a group of eight. She said the termination was not done by seniority and not done fairly. CEO Huberman told her Human Capital would follow up if positions are being restored. Tangela Burton added comments.

Sylvester Hendricks told the Board that when he viewed the tape of last month's meeting, he realized that a half dozen security officers surrounded him at the last meeting. He wanted to know if there has been a report about any BOE member being attacked by me. He added that he has been attending BOE meetings since 1995. He said he has been here through Chico and the Man, Duncan Hines, and Michael Scott, "our assassinated brother". He told the Board that colleagues report a lack of respect by the BOE. President Richardson-Lowry told him that it is not the intention of this Board to demonstrate any levels of disrespect. Mr. Hendricks also mentioned that he is running for state office.

Xian Barrett, a terminated teacher from Julian High School, told the Board that he used to love this system and teaching at Julian High School. He loved teaching Japanese in the last Japanese program in the city. He loved his eighty-hour work weeks, was proud of his students and was going to miss them a lot. He added that all the students were lovable. He commented on the level of disrespect the Board has shown to teachers and students and asked how can we maintain this (system) unless we show love to our teachers and students. He added that we show love to our coordinators. He told the Board that he has chosen to move on, but asked that we move toward an elected school board. President Richardson-Lowry told him, "Thank you for your passionate viewpoints."

Little Village HIgh School student Ashley Landa (above at microphone) spoke against the cuts in teachers. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Ashley Landa, a senior a Little Village High School, who started at a suburban school, remarked that "All the teachers I care about are gone. What will happen to our education?" She told the Board "Put yourselves in our shoes because soon we will be in your shoes." CEO Huberman told her that we will continue to advocate for funding.

Xian Barrett added, "Advocate on the municipal level as well."

Martin Moya-Leary, of Belmont-Cragin Early Childhood Center, told of the need for security there for young children. Off-duty police officers were used as security. There is no door buzzer or security camera. Officers are needed to check the doors. A part-time security position was cut because there are no funds and the school will have to fend for itself. CEO Huberman said we got the request yesterday and Mike Shields will cover it.

Suzanne Dunn, a fifteen-year teacher from Prescott School, said she was a self-contained Special Ed teacher whose position was closed at the end of "09. She was then Resource, but was terminated honorably, due to budgetary constraints. A teacher was then assigned who had not taught Special Ed in twenty years and new teachers were hired. She asked to be moved into a regular education class if Special Ed is eliminated. CEO Huberman will meet with her and Human Capital as well.

Lois Jones, of Schurz High School, told the Board that you know finances, but you don't know education. You do not respect tenured teachers. We would not have sixty per cent National Board Certified teachers out of a job if you had followed the contract. She added that tenure is important because I do not have to fear for my job, because I'm sticking up for my students and it's going to cost more money. She named her class sizes: 41, 37, and 36. She told the Board that they should start with 25 in a class. She remarked that $10,000,000 is being spent for after-school computers.

Khadijah Snyder, of Julian High School, spoke against the cuts in school. She asked the Board to hire back every last teacher. She told the Board that they took away band and teachers that cared for us. You took away Mr. Barrett who brought students to the Board to speak their minds. You fired him. President Richardson-Lowry replied, "You're great today. If you want to consider a position in patent law..."

Rosita Chatonda spoke of the hiring of highly qualified teachers to work in CPS. She told the Board she has met with displaced teachers each week. She spoke of the quality of these teachers and told the Board that they worked in jobs you would not take in high-risk areas, where you could not survive for two minutes. She asked about the money from the state that was not used. President Richardson-Lowry redirected her question to CEO Huberman. Patricia O'Keefe, an Alcott School parent of three, said she is frightened as she learns more about the Illinois budget. She said she is shocked at the lack of some concessions. She remarked that the budget crisis could not have been foreseen. She added that of the 200 teachers fired, parents could tell you who has lost passion and that accountability is needed. She requested that CEO Huberman and CTU President Lewis catapult Illinois to the forefront in education. She said both are extraordinary leaders. President Richardson-Lowry responded, "Thank you."

Patricia O'Keefe, who identified herself as a parent from Alcott school (in Lincoln Park), told the Board that she was angry at the Chicago Teachers Union for not wanting to "share the sacrifice" in these difficult economic times.

Substance reporter (and CTU consultant) George Schmidt spoke last during public participation and was highly critical of the way in which the Board presented the Proposed Budget. As a result, Ron Huberman ordered that Schmidt's presentation be cut out of the final televised version of the meeting. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.Last to speak was George Schmidt, who identified himself as a reporter for Substance News, consultant with the CTU, and a parent. He said he emphasized the last because the majority of parents in Chicago disagreed with the previous speaker.

Schmidt said that the Budget book was not made available to the public; it had 430 pages of text, and a CD contained more than 1,500 pages of additional information. He said that on page 314 can be found an organizational chart of people who have never been in a classroom. He added that now cold technocrats run the system. He told the Board that they should be ashamed of themselves for promulgating this. He remarked that once there were six regions and now there are 30 areas. The Area Education Officer no longer has to be a teacher. He said P.R. 13 told of $50 million in entities that do supplemental educational services, some of whom work out of a post office box. (Later, CEO Huberman said that we have no power over P.R. 13.)

Mr. Schmidt added that this budget is the most disgraceful in history and all your comments were just attempts to cover that up. CEO Huberman said the budget was available on the internet. Mr. Schmidt responded that he was given two copies. He was told this version is a draft copy and the final version will be made more available in libraries and schools. President Richardson-Lowry spoke to a Board member who said we handed out copies and took names and addresses of those who had not received copies and mailed them out today. President Richardson-Lowry returned to Carol Caref's concern about NYC lay-offs. CEO Huberman said NYC asked the teachers' union for concessions which were not given.

Chicago Board of Education outside labor lawyer James Franczek (above, with a partner) arrived late at the August 25, 2010 Board of Education meeting. Franczek has been negotiating with the CTU leadership all summer, trying to get the administration of Karen Lewis to take $100 million in cuts even though the Board's budget showed by summer's end that there was no necessity for cuts. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.He claimed that Los Angeles is not bringing any teachers back with those Federal dollars. The future looks bad, he claimed, that the other districts are banking those dollars for the future. It is a hiring moratorium, not a hiring freeze. It is a temporary stop of hiring, he said.

We wanted to rehire — but not unsatisfactory teachers, he said. "We haven't received any of the $100 million yet.," he said. The state could say this is in place of what we owe you, he said.

We are RECALLING teachers, he insisted, even after teacher after teacher had just testified that they were being told they were not being hired because they were "too expensive."

CFO Diana Ferguson said that SB1946 (the Illinois law that gave Chicago a $1.2 billon gift from the Chicago teachers pension fund) is a short-term temporary relief, not a pension holiday. [Huberman and Ferguson may not call it a "pension holiday," but the Civic Federation in its recent report on Chicago's school finances did]. There are no changes in current benefits, he said about the attack on the Chicago pension fund. It does not affect current employees. The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) is separate from the Board. It has $9 billion in assets to provide benefits to retirees. Board Member Carrero, a Pension Trustee, added that pension relief helped us to close the gap and that we are required by law to comply with the contribution requirements.

Next on the agenda were policies regarding P.O.1 - an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and R.U. 1 - adoption of the Rules of the Board of Education once again, which have been modified.

There were a repeal of the procurement rules, an amendment to align with state laws regarding the age of children for enrolling in first grade rather than in kindergarten, and a listing of rules regarding the use of mailboxes in Union elections. Following this, the Board went into closed session. 



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