Hearings put in new locations... 'Rock Island' and 'Englewood' hearings to larger spaces.... Byrd Bennett and Board members continue to be truant from the hearings, while impassioned parents are misled into believing that the 'Board' is sitting in front of them
Late on Friday February 15, 2013, the CPS Office of Communications issued another revision of the schedule of "hearings" for the coming week, modifying (again) the schedule that CPS still has officially on the Board of Education's website (www.cps.edu). He hearings have been tumultuous for weeks, as thousands of people turn out to oppose the claims that CPS schools are "underutilized" and that the school system is facing a "billion dollar deficit." Both claims have been refuted by research based on facts, but continue as CPS talking points.
CPS still hasn't explained why the hearings are not being held in Chicago public schools, most of which have large auditoriums, but speculation has begun that the hearings being held in churches are a form of patronage.
Substance reporters who have attended and covered most of the hearings also note that the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education and CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett are not attending the hearings, as if they were frightened of the communities they claim to be "listening" to. At the hearings, parents, students, teachers and others talk to the be-suited people sitting in the front as if those people were members of the "Board of Education." No one from CPS has informed the people speaking that the "Board" members and the top official for the school system are not there, and that no transcript of the hearings is being kept so that the members of the Board will vote on the basis of a "summary" report (which some people believe have already been written).
The CPs press release states as follows:
WHO: Residents of Englewood-Gresham and Rock Island Networks
WHAT: Announcing the change to larger venues at Englewood-Gresham and Rock Island community engagement meetings to accommodate more participants.
WHERE: Englewood/Gresham School Network, Monday, February 18 at 7 p.m., AFC Center (in the auditorium), 7859 S. Ashland Ave.
Rock Island School Network, Monday, February 25 at 7 p.m., Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 1257 West 111th Street
About Community Meetings: CPS is holding meetings as part of a rigorous community engagement process related to the Districtâ€™s daunting utilization crisis, due in large part to a significant population decline over the last decade. Today, CPS serves 403,000 students, but has space for 511,000. Nearly 140 schools are more than half-empty and about 50 percent of all schools are underutilized. In the face of a $1 billion deficit next fiscal year, this utilization crisis is stretching the Districtâ€™s limited resources much too thin. By addressing this crisis, CPS will be able to better redirect resources toward programs and supports that provide all children with a well-rounded, high-quality education, such as new technology, playgrounds, libraries, AC, more nurses and counselors and art and music programs.