Jan. 25 CPS Board of Ed Meeting Preview: A Few More Magnet Seats?

Written by: Crystal Yednak

NPN and Chicago News Cooperative are working togeter to help families get the answers they need about about Chicago schools. If you have a question you'd like to see us, please send it to cyednak@chicagonewscoop.org. 

CNC is our eyes and ears at the CPS Board of Education Meetings. Preview: Chicago Public Schools Board of Education Meeting, Jan. 25, 2012.  VIsit www.chicagonewscoop.org for the full story on the board’s actions.

After an eventful 2011, the Chicago Board of Education will meet Wednesday for its first meeting of the new year.  The agenda calls for votes on the addition of two kindergarten magnet classrooms, three new student health policies and the transfer of $114.6 million in tax increment financing dollars from the City Council for the construction of a new Jones College Prep High School.

Here’s a detailed look of what the Board will vote on Wednesday:

More kindergarten magnet slots

The board will vote on a plan for Beasley Elementary Magnet School to convert their neighborhood kindergarten slots to magnet slots, opening up more seats in the district’s coveted magnet system.  There are a total of 40 magnet schools in CPS.

Beasley currently houses a magnet program that serves first through eighth grade and a regional gifted program that serves kindergarten through eighth grade. There are a total of three kindergarten classrooms at the South Side school, one for the gifted program and two that are filled on a “first come, first served” basis with neighborhood children. Next school year, the two neighborhood kindergarten rooms would be converted into magnet classrooms to create a K-8 continuum in the magnet program. The change would require an additional $128,600 in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

EpiPens and other health policies

By next school year, all CPS schools will be required to stock between four and six EpiPens, to be used to stop cases of anaphylaxis shock, bringing the district into compliance with a new state law passed last year.

The CPS Office of Special Education and Supports will purchase and distribute the pens to schools at a cost of roughly $195,000, according to CPS officials. The policy will also require medication-related training for CPS staff at least every two years.

The district is also considering a diabetes management policy and an asthma policy. Both policies will require staff training and support for diagnosed students. 

The diabetes policy will identify and train a Delegated Care Aide for every student with diabetes at a school. Currently, there are 959 documented cases of CPS students with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, CPS officials say. The asthma policy will allow students to self-administer their medication with permission from a parent or guardian.

TIF boosts capital spending

Last month, the district announced how it plans to spend its $660 million capital budget. A vote will be taken on whether or not to approve the construction budget, of which one-fifth is allocated to schools slated for overhaul. 

In addition to the approval of capital projects, the Board will vote whether to transfer tax increment financing money from the city to construct a new school for Jones College Prep, a selective-enrollment high school.

According to the resolution, CPS will get $114.6 million from the city in TIF money. When the construction of a new Jones College Prep was announced, the project carried a $96 million price tag. It is unclear if the cost of that project has gone up or if the additional TIF money will be spent elsewhere.

New CPS teacher evaluations to mirror D.C. Public Schools?

On Wednesday’s agenda, the Board is set to vote on an amendment to its contract with Insight Education, a consulting group that specializes in teacher evaluations, professional development and instructional leadership. Insight is assisting in developing a new teacher evaluation system for CPS.

Insight Education has helped a number of charter schools develop evaluation systems and played a role in developing a new instructional framework system for District of Columbia when Michelle Rhee served as Chancellor

The DCPS Teaching and Learning framework includes a set of curriculum benchmarks that are also used when evaluating teachers under the district’s controversial teacher evaluation system, called IMPACT. The evaluations have been both lauded and lambasted for evaluating teachers based on student test scores. Under the IMPACT system, teachers can be fired if they earn an ineffective rating, but can earn bonuses up to $25,000 if rated highly effective. 

CPS is currently in negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union over the details of a new teacher evaluation system, which must be in place in half of all CPS schools by next fall according to a new state law.  The state law requires student test scores to account for at least 25 percent of the overall evaluation, but individual districts can choose to increase that amount. 

STAY TUNED for the meeting recap!

Posted on January 23, 2012 at 5:52 PM