BOARDWATCH: Chicago Board of Education meeting of April 22, 2015 highlighted by Board's continued support for its failed policies and people... Ruiz becomes 'Interim CEO' of CPS....Critics cut off after two minutes and then told 'Sit down and shut up!' by Vitale (as usual)....

Surprisingly, there were no protesters outside the new headquarters of the Chicago Board of Education at 42 West Madison Street before the regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, April 22, 2014. Nobody protested the excessive standardized tests or the $20 million that was spent on the questionable SUPES contract.

Some of the highest-paid CPS administrators are seen saying the "Pledge of Allegiance" at the April 22, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Not one of the people in the above photograph is a trained and certified Chicago teacher or principal. All were hired without competitive advertising and without regard to their experience and credentials in teaching by the present Chicago Board of Education, which is still only facing legal scrutiny over the no-bid SUPES contract. Substance photo by David Vance.Board members who were present at the meeting were Dr. Henry Bienen, Dr. Mahalia Hines, Board Vice-President (soon to be interim Chief Executive Officer) Jesse Ruiz, Andrea Zopp, and Dr. Carlos Azcoitia. Also present was Board President David Vitale and Chief Counsel James Bebley. Absent was Board member Deborah Quazzo and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Byrd Bennett has taken a paid leave from the Board while a federal investigation into the SUPES contract takes place. There was no explanation for Quazzo's latest absence, although some in the audience speculated that the Board didn't want her around because of the scandals involving her conflicts of interest, which preceded the scandals involving conflicts of interest for Barbara Byrd Bennett.

The meeting began with remarks by Board President David Vitale about the federal investigation into the SUPES contract and the leave of absence by Barbara Byrd-Bennett from her position as

CEO. Vitale said that he has had regularly scheduled meetings with the Inspector General. He said we talk about concerns we have had. Shortly after the time of the last meeting, Jack Klein, Inspector General decided there was enough noise to initiate an investigation. President Vitale added that it would be "inappropriate for me to talk about the investigation." He said that there had been no discussion with the Inspector General since that time about the SUPES contract. Vitale said that he will look forward to the Inspector General's results on that investigation.

An announcement was made that Board Vice-President Jesse Ruiz soon will officially be the "interim CEO." (The vote to make Ruiz Interim CEO had to be taken when the Board voted on actions later in the meeting). His personal history with the Board and his education were cited. The importance of staying focused on the task at hand was mentioned.

An outside firm firm is being hired with bidding to conduct an investigation. The Supes contract has been suspended as of today and will be terminated if wrong-doing is found.

Spin doctors at Chicago's City Hall and Chicago Public Schools have been working overtime to shut down the SUPES scandal before most of the public notices how widespread the corruption involving "no-bid" contracts and "no-advertise" personnel hirings have been since Rahm Emanuel appointed the present Board of Education members in May and June 2011. Emanuel's appointees include those in charge of the "CPS Office of Communications," which has always followed the City Hall party line. The current CPS "Communications" chief, Bill McCaffrey, came directly from City Hall, and his predecessor, Becky Carroll, left CPS to lead "Chicago Forward," one of the PACs supporting Rahm in the recent elections. The "good news" portion of the meeting was next, with the introduction of new members of student councils across the district. The new members will serve for 18 months until they graduate in 2016. The present student council members who will graduate this spring were also honored. The principals and staff members who support these students were also acknowledged.

Next, Aarti Dhuphelia, "Chief Officer for Career and College Success", introduced high school and elementary school chess champions from Lane Tech High School and Decatur, Lenhart, Skinner North elementary schools and Whitney Young Academic Academy. A first grade chess champion from Decatur spoke first, followed by Philip Kujawa of Lenhart, Ryan Long of Skinner North and Jeremy Margolin of Whitney Young Academy.

Ginger Ostro, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), announced that the budgetary outlook has been completed, that the Board was able to sell $300 million in fixed rate bonds yesterday, and that there were 100 investors who were interested in purchasing the bonds at 5.5% interest rate.

Mention was also made of the cost to the Board of pensions and the effect on Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. It was also said the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is the only district in the state facing this deficit challenge and that Chicago is the second to the last in the country in providing for its public schools. Added was the remark that we must look to Springfield for help and advocate for meaningful pension reform and help with the $1.1 billion deficit.

As usual, Board President Vitale then announced that by calling 773-553-1600. He said that members of the public could arrange to meet with Board members during "office hours."

The next Board meeting will take place, Wednesday, May 27, at the CPS Loop office. Sign-up to speak will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 18, and continue through Friday, May 22 at 5 p.m. "or until all slots are filled."

There were 56 people who had signed up to speak during public participation, thirteen of whom were from Alfred Nobel School. They signed up to speak about the need for more classrooms and space at Alfred Nobel at 4127 West Hirsch (not to be confused with the Noble Charter Schools).

First to speak during public participation was Michael Brunson, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Recording Secretary, who asked if he would get more than two minutes to speak. Board President Vitale replied, "Two minutes. That's all you get."

Brunson said he was not here to talk about the SUPES contract, the $1.1 billion deficit, or the real deficit, but the reluctance of the Board to work with the CTU to find progressive solutions. He said it was a matter of priorities. He remarked that every year there is a deficit. He asked the Board to work with the CTU to renegotiate the swaps and cut the unnecessary contract. He added that we can work to stop this annual "dance of the deficits."

At this point, Estela Beltran, Board Secretary, gave directions to all public participants regarding the two minute time limit -- and Brunson was silenced.

Kristin Boeke-Greven, vice-chair of the LSC at Decatur Classical School, said "the K-6 model is broken" and needs to be fixed. Decatur K-6 students are on their own for seventh and eighth grade when they try to find another school. She said there is pressure to achieve on fifth and sixth grade test in order to get into Selective Enrollment schools for seventh grade. More than half of the parents of sixth graders want to move them out before seventh grade.

Next, Jeanette Schar said she wants Decatur expanded to seventh and eighth grade. She cited the history of advocation for this and said that Alderman James Cappelman supported their efforts. She added that ideally the elementary model should be K-8 and asked that the Board not delay action on this matter.

Rob Olmstead, parent of a Decatur student at 7030 N. Sacramento Avenue doesn't support expansion of Decatur by moving the school to the closed Stewart in Uptown because of the shootings at Stewart, 76 at Stewart compared to two at Decatur in the same time period. He stated that one shooting at Stewart on Sunnyside occurred during schools hours in front of the school. He also mentioned that it would take too much money to get Stewart ready again.

Board President Vitale said that "we recognize the need and will work on this."

Gin Kilgore, who is on the Local School Council (LSC) and a parent at Goethe School, said that she supports district-run schools and wants a moratorium on charter schools. She also said she was concerned about two systems and affirmed that we need to be a united model. She remarked that we accept all children at district-run schools.

Kerry Murphy, a parent at Dever School, said that the school is overcrowded, but despite that, great things are happening at Dever and named the achievements. She commented that the loss in funds affected three kindergarten classrooms and after-school funding. She said that they still offer after-school programs by dipping into other funds. Like many overcrowded schools that have been appearing at the Board meetings, Dever is on the Northwest Side of Chicago.

Vitale wanted to know what "unfunded mandates" there are and asked her to communicate with staff.

A parent at Belding School, with an enrollment of 300, supports neighborhood schools. She said that despite flawed policies, the school flourishes. She added that the "wheel of choice" in all classrooms helps students and her daughter feels the joy of learning.

Lynn Ankney, also a parent at Belding, who is on the LSC, said that no neighborhood will prosper without a strong neighborhood school at its core.

Hanna Anne Hayes, a parent of children at Whitney Young and formerly at Ray School, said that they had great teachers who figured out the best path for them. One teacher bought the Tribune for a student. Another teacher had a student who was disorganized about returning library books, so instead of punishing the student, the teacher bought an organizer for the back of the student's chair so the student could put library books there. She expressed a need for equitable funding for the schools.

Charlie Wysong, of "Equip for Equality," remarked that 37 charter schools are to be authorized next month. He talked about the requirements that some charter schools demand, not just a lottery to get into the charter school. He said he is not here to oppose charter schools but to call attention to unlawful enrollment policies and discipline policies.

When Jennie Biggs, a CPS parent from Raise Your Hand, tried to respond to the usual pompous pronouncements from Board member Henry Bienen, she was cut off by Board President David Vitale, who barked "You've had your turn." Parents and other speakers are limited to 120 seconds (two minutes) to speak, and a red light goes on when they have used up their time, and the secretary barks "TIME!" Biggs had noted that the Board has more than 12,000 vacant seats in the charter schools it has been expanding (and plans to expand further at its May meeting), but the Board members ignored the facts. They again proclaimed that they alone knew the "actual facts" (a quote from Vitale, also traditionally from Bienen, who says they have the "true facts") and then silenced any contrary facts from the public. Substance photo by David Vance.Jennie Biggs, of Raise Your Hand, said that teachers do remarkable things every day. She informed all that there are 12,637 empty seats in 64 existing charter schools. She added that expanding charter schools starves existing schools of resources at a time of budget crisis. She said that the mayor wants to hit the reset button and she asked that the cycle of financial abuse be stopped.

Corey Fryer, of Chicago International Charter Schools (CICS), Basil Campus, and a parent and teacher, sang the praises of charter schools and expressed pride in them.

Louis Pyster, a retiree and a long-time observer of this Board, talked about the law prior to the 1995 Amendatory Act. He suggested that people who talk about issues could call the CEO or other staff members to talk about the problems in the schools rather than presenting the problems to the Board at its meeting each month. He added that the Principals Association was making a statement about dirty buildings and asked why they didn't talk about that.

Erica Clark, of Parents 4 Teachers. was interested in the CTU teachers contract talks. She remarked that there is a wall of silence from CPS about what CPS would like in the new contract. She said that there is zero credibility for CPS. She added that sunshine is the best disinfectant and that this district needs serious disinfecting.

Tracy Talmadge of Butler College Prep, a charter school, said she supports charter schools. She spoke of her child who was passed along from grade to grade without being challenged. The child went from Cs and Ds in fifth grade to As and Bs in the charter school. She said that Butler College Prep helps her stay focused and thanked the Board.

Ronald Jackson said that the best man didn't win the recent mayoral election. He added that scandals have been going on and no-bid contracts have been handed out like chicken nuggets at Burger-King. He remarked that the Board has no remorse. He said Safe Passage was baloney and said 63rd Street and 35th Street do not have safe passage.

Tina Barrett said her son is no longer at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy; he says he hates it there. She added that children have been transferred out in record numbers despite the new building and a pool that no one was ever in. She said that teachers have no voice and that there is a Gestapo-like atmosphere. She remarked that some classes never have a teacher and that Netflix movies are shown. She commented that no one asks, "Is this working?" She asked, "Who exactly should we be holding responsible?"

Cecilia Jaimes, also of Sarah E. Goode, said that she was denied financial records for the last three years. She added that a language class is being held on-line, students are leaving, there is no full-time social worker, and teachers have not been properly evaluated. She concluded that an emergency LSC is needed and that the principal and assistant principal should be removed because they do not have the students best interests at heart.

Inez Hernandez, also of Sarah E. Goode, said there are no documents in Spanish for parents, the pool is never used, and on-line classes are not needed.

Arny Stieber, of Veterans for Peace, wanted to inform the Board about the Veterans for Peace (VFP) Initiative "Education not Militarization." He said that the military model is conflict resolution by violence. He added that when people areTRAINED to do bad things, they will do bad things. He concluded that the military model is detrimental to children, the nation, and the earth.

Two of thirteen persons who signed up to speak about conditions at Alfred Nobel School, spoke next. Elva Velaquez, who is on the LSC, and Martha Casas, who is also on the LSC, spoke of a need for support for the school, a need for more space for the 100-year-old building and a need for an annex.

Next, Laurie Viets, who has three children at Beard School, a special needs school, said her oldest child has autism. She mentioned the scandal stores and decried the trash talk against teachers. She spoke of kind, wonderful teachers at Beard. She is afraid of the June budgets. She invited the Board to Beard.

Karla Holcolm, who is on the LSC at Peterson Elementary, said that the field trip to a ropes course has an excellent safety record. It was originally approved by CPS, buses were obtained, and later the trip was denied because CPS said that it had no insurance for ropes courses. She remarked that this was disappointing. She mentioned that five CPS charter schools go to ropes courses every year and asked, "Why not Beard School, is insurance an issue?"

Board President Vitale asked Tim Cawley, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to get to the bottom of this.

Robert Antonson, of Dirksen Elementary, said that one and a half years ago, his child was physically abused by a teacher. The room was too cold and the children did not wear their coats. He complained in writing and also email. He then added that his four-year-old had concussions which was fully documented in a package which he gave to CPS Board members. He asked for

an answer in writing and added that for the last four months, his four-year-old had been bullied.

Board President Vitale asked Ms. Colson, a Board lawyer, to speak to him.

Evelyn Reid spoke of the Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan (MERP) which she says cuts health care costs. She said that CPS could save money which could be used for other programs. Board President Vitale referred her to CAO Cawley.

Diondai Brown-Whitfield said she was inspired by Cardinal George and Father Pfleger. She spoke about forgiveness and young children. She mentioned that she had been a volunteer for forty years now, since her freshman year of high school. She mentioned Ronnie Mosley (a college student who had spoken out against violence) and how she watched him grow. She told everyone that the 150th anniversary of freedom in Illinois was when Illinois was accepted into the Union on April 18, 1818. She said Emancipation Day should be celebrated as an anniversary of freedom.

Nancy Hudspeth, on the LSC at Northside Learning Center, said it was a wonderful school for students with cognitive disabilities, where the students learn by doing. They practice being at a restaurant, being in a grocery story and using public transportation. They also learn to wash cars and take care of plants in the very old building. She welcomed everyone to visit the school at Bryn Mawr and Pulaski. She was referred to staff.

Yolanda Armstead is a grandmother of a grandchild who was put out of Mitchell and readmitted. She said she was concerned about missing clothing and bruises. The child was supposed to go to Willa Cather School but the process was stopped and the child was not accepted there even though the child had the transfer in hand. The child has been out of school since the transfer was blocked and the child was not accepted. She was referred to staff.

Sylvia Sanchez, of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) charter school network expressed support for the network leaders. She said that parents are always welcomed, parents voices are heard, and there is a plan for the next five years.

Erin Rensink, a parent at Darwin School, said that three years ago the school was put on the closing list but not closed.She said that there had been cuts in funding. She named programs at Darwin, including music and ukelele programs. She said that the school needs funding and she asked CPS to be partners in Darwin's success.

Brenda Gutierrez, of Intrinsic School, said her son has a learning disability. She sent him to Intrinsic, but the system is failing him. She mentioned several concerns and provided a hand-out of her concerns.

Ed Bannon, of the Dunning area, has three students at Dever School. He said that the school is over capacity and has dedicated teachers. He said that the teachers at Canty, Bridge, and Steinmetz were also good. He said Dever at Irving Park Road and Oak Park Avenue needs relief. He mentioned that Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding was available and that charter schools were no benefit to the system. He asked for a new school on the north side.

Board members were asked for their reactions.

Dr. Carlos Azcoitia said that we need to take a look at Alfred Nobel School and at what they are

saying about the conditions there.

Andrea Zopp said that feedback on Sarah E. Goode School was needed.

Dr. Mahalia Hines said we also need to meet with the parents.

Board President Vitale said that the people who speak to us have facts that are not always accurate and we need to fact-check.

Dr. Bienen addressed Jennie Biggs by name and said, "You would be more persuasive about

charter schools if you do the geography of this issue."

Dr. Mahalia Hines added, "These are all our neighborhood schools. Charter schools could not exist if parents did not send their children there."

While it may be heartening to some fans of corporate "school reform" that the Chicago Sun-Times has finally sent reporters to check on one of the many no-bid contracts (and dozens of no-advertise personnel hirings) of the Rahm Emanuel Board of Education, since the SUPES deal was approved by a unanimous vote of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education in June 2013, the real question is: "What took you so long?" As to the other questions about no-bid and no-advertise deals, it appears that the editors of the corporate media in Chicago (who are usually friends of Rahm Emanuel) don't want to go any further. As David Vitale told critics during the April 22, 2015 Board of Education meeting, "Sit down and shut up!" Jennie Biggs then spoke to respond, but was told by Board President Vitale, "Excuse me, you had your opportunity!"

(At CTU House of Delegates meetings, Robert's Rules of Order are followed. If a person's name is mentioned in a remark by someone else, that person has the right to respond by asking for a point of privilege.)

Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz mentioned that Sarah Karp has done a "great job" of reporting and that fact-checking is important. He said that she needs a pat on the back on fact-checking. Board President Vitale said, "It was great to hear from people who say neighborhood schools are doing a good job, in spite of us".

Board President Vitale then said that overcrowding was a problem and that Ginger (Ostro) had laid out the problem. He said we need to work with Springfield and that we are constrained in the amount of revenue we can generate on our own without Springfield. He added that we have our challenges in getting revenue.

Andrea Zopp mentioned charters and said that the process to review charters is required by law every year. She said that they can go to the state committee if they are denied and the state committee can overrule.

Interim CEO Jessie Ruiz said, "And then we would have no control on these schools."

Dr. Bienen spoke of what he said is the "$700 million" pension shortfall. He said that the pension problem puts the single greatest strain on the budget, ignoring the large increase in debt service to the banks, the Board's routine approval of vendor contracts that are never scrutinized, or the costs of the variable rate bonds that the Board has refused to challenge (as suggested by CTU officials and many others). Bienen added that there were "severe cuts" at the top in the last year, without saying what they were. He remarked that people come up with lots of ideas to raise money. He also said that Illinois is "vastly underfunded" in public schools and that there is not a lot of magic words out there. He concluded that the solutions really lie in Springfield.

Then Dr. Bienen read the statement that called for a closed session for the Board to consider agenda items that require secrecy from the public agenda.


After this, a press conference was held, the first in several years. Various reporters, among them Sarah Schulte (Channel 7), Derrick Blakley (Channel 2), and Sarah Karp (Catalyst), asked Interim CEO Ruiz questions, such as "How long is the interim position?" " Why were you chosen?" (He replied tht he had great relationships in Springfield and worked closely with legislators there over decades. He mentioned the SUPES contract breach and said it was in the best interests to suspend this at this time, beginning immediately. He added that the SUPES contract was not a performance contract.)

Another question was "Was it a mistake to have a no-bid contract?" (Interim CEO Ruiz said, "No, not at that time.") He was also asked, "Why wasn't it looked into beforehand rather than after the vote?" "Any new information you learned that you would not have voted on?" (Interim CEO Ruiz said they were told only that vendor could provide for the needs.")

The press conference ended and the Board chambers were cleared by security guards.


Parents testify at April 2015 CPS BOE meeting

7 parents testified this month about the need for CPS to invest in district run schools. CPS just recieved proposals to open another 9 charters with 32 campuses. Jennie Biggs of RYH shared our infographic showing there are over 12k empty seats in existing charter schools. Given the budget crisis and enrollment decline at our district, we find it financially irresponsible to keep opening more schools.

Some parent testimonies:

Belding, LSC rep Lynn Ankney

I appreciate the opportunity to speak about my passion for my neighborhood school and how I believe CPS has an opportunity to strengthen our city through stronger support of district run schools. Id be remiss in my testimony if I didnt acknowledge my unyielding support and love for my neighborhood school is in spite of the ongoing challenges we parents face against a district that is fraught with controversy and has a seeming propensity towards privatizing our public schools. My name is Lynn Ankney and I live in Old Irving Park. My son and daughter attend our neighborhood school, Belding. Ive served on the Belding LSC since 2007 and co-founded Friends of Belding. In short, I not only drink the Belding Kool-Aid, I help make it. At the risk of sounding immodest, you want more parents like me across CPS. Why? Because Im never moving and am committed to making our neighborhood school, Belding, the best it can be. I had a vested interest before my kids attended and Ill want to see it thrive long after my kids have graduated. All residents have skin in the game either directly or indirectly when it comes to their neighborhood CPS. And thats my point: There is an inextricable link between our neighborhood schools and the communities they serve. Show me a thriving neighborhood school and Ill point to an influx or families, rising home values and real estate listings touting the local CPS. Unfortunately, the reverse is true. We all know schools are a MAJOR reason families with children approaching school age flee Chicago and head for the suburbs. Give parents a reason to stay in the city. There are many other Beldings across Chicago and there can be many more if CPS would wise up and realize our world class citys strength is through the patchwork of diverse, vibrant neighborhoods and no neighborhood will prosper without a solid school at the heart of that community. So heres my pitch to our Mayor and you: neighborhood schools matter! Invest in neighborhood schools and youre going a long way to strengthening the communities in which they reside, attracting and most importantly RETAINING the local families who have the motivation and power to make their neighborhood school excel and become the anchor of their community.

Laurie Viets, Beard school

Hello. My Name is Laurie Viets and I am theproud parent of three children who attend Beard Elementary School. Beard School is a specialty Chicago Public School districtfunded-that services students with special needs from Pre-K to 3rd grade. My 3.5 year oldgirl/boy twins, River and Raven, are part of pre-k in the Ready to Learnprogram with Raven receiving special services through an IEP for DevelopmentalDelay. My oldest child, Canyon, isAutistic and was blessed with the opportunity to attend Beard for two years ofpre k and is now in kindergarten. As I was staring at my computer screen trying to decide how tomake everyone understand how truly life changing this public school is to myfamily and so many others- my Facebook feed was blowing up with more and morestories of corruption and scandal and conflict of interestit was overwhelmingand it kind of made me just want to give up and go to bed. Then I thought, NO. We need these positive stories more than ever. We need people to know that despite all the negative, soulsucking garbage that is coming out of Chicago and all the political trash talkagainst Chicagos public schools and its teachers, that there are incredible publicschools in CPS. In the case of Beard we are blessed with amazing, brilliant, kind,creative, wonderful teachers and staff who have made it their lifes work toeducate, inspire and protect children with special needs. Each and every child in theirclassrooms has unique challenges to learning and these men and women work tofind the right technique to reach them. They go above and beyond everyday. I am so thankful for them and what they do for my kids. To see my Autistic son learning to readand write and do math is life changing. To see him play 5 oranges in the school play of The Very HungryCaterpillar made me cry. I love our school. I am so grateful for the funding that makessuch a magical place possible. Iam terrified that when the budgets come out in June that we will be decimated. We cant let that happen. 2 minutes is not enough time for you to know Beard. So please accept an invitation frommyself and my children to come and visit. You will be inspired. Andyou could probably use a little of that right now.

Erin Rensink, Darwin school

Hello my name is Erin Rensink. I have been a parent at Darwin Elementary School in Logan Square for the past three years. We chose Darwin because we believe in its mission, we wanted to stay in our neighborhood and most of all I believe in public education. Darwin has come a long way in the short three years we have been parents there. Its been quite the ride. Despite CPS putting it on a closing list and cutting 750,000 of funding three years ago when my son was in his first year of pre-school it is thriving. I am here to ask for equitable funding and equitable support of our public schools. Let me tell you about a few of the great things that are happening just four blocks from my home at Darwin. We now have a game changing leadership program as well as Concert Band, Rock Band, Ukelele Choir, Concert Ukelele Choir and Junior Ukelele Choir, Guitar, Concert Choir and Piano Lab. Our school now has an after school program facilitated by Columbia College that focuses on art, science, English and math. Kindergarten through 6th grade started flamenco class after school just yesterday. Our teachers and administrators have been working hard to find the funding for these programs through grants and partnerships. We have no support from CPS to make these great programs in our school happen and that is a shame. Darwin in working hard to make this a school for all neighborhood children. I can only imagine what an amazing place our school would be with sufficient funding. I have nothing but the utmost gratitude and love for the hardworking teachers and administrators that make our school the inspiring place that it is. We love our neighborhood school. We need a strong PUBLIC school system. Every child and parent in Chicago should have that choice. I would love for CPS to be able to share more of the successes in our public schools. Thank you.

Kerry Murphy, Dever school

Good morning. I am an elected LSC parent rep at Dever elementary. As you are aware, Ive been here before to discuss overcrowding at Dever, but today I am here to discuss the wonderful things happening at the school despite serious overcrowding and other top-down mandates that the school has no control over.

Dever is a school where my kids are valued and their relationships with teachers are strong. The dedicated lunchroom staff serves hot lunches and cold breakfasts to the students every day, even though our lunchroom is understaffed. The school stays relatively clean, thanks to the school staff and parent volunteers who step up to clean in the absence of enough custodians. We find creative ways to keep up with the unfunded mandates handed down by the Board of Ed. The wonderful administration and staff have worked to obtain the Creative Schools Certification, even though they wheel the music and art classes around on carts. A dance instructor now leads class in the multipurpose room to fulfill the unfunded PE requirement, at the same time and in the same room as our kids are eating their lunch. The school has recess to fulfill the unfunded recess mandate in a non-fenced in concrete area. Thankfully, as of yet no child has been hit by a car. We now have 3 kindergarten classrooms of 30 kids each, with no classroom assistants to fulfill the unfunded full day kindergarten program. Dever lost the funding for all after school programs this year, so we dipped into our school budget to offer at least some after school programs for our students.

As you can see, the decisions made by our administration and staff are in the best interests of the children and Dever should be held up as an example of the kind of school model that should be replicated in other neighborhood schools. Its time for the mayor to hit the reset button and approve policies that lift our district schools up, not bring us down. Stop destabilizing neighborhood schools by shifting dollars over to privately run charter and contract schools. We have done our part at the school level, now do yours.


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