Catalyst survey results

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Catalyst conducted a survey of 70 local school council members from a representative sample of 20 elementary schools and five high schools across the city.

Participants were asked for their views on LSC structure, mandatory training and principal selection and evaluation. We also asked for their ideas on how to improve schools and boost interest in LSC elections. Of those who responded:

36 were parents

19 were teachers

12 were community members

3 were principals

Note: Some tallies do not add up to 100% due to non-responses.

Council structure

Should the number of LSC members be reduced to make councils more effective?

Yes 14%

No 81%

Should more teachers be added to increase level of teacher input?

Yes 62%

No 31%

Should CPS stagger council terms to ensure an overlap of new and existing members?

Yes 60%

No 30%

Principal selection and evaluation

Does your LSC get enough training to conduct effective principal evaluations?

Yes 60%

No 40%

Does your LSC get sufficient principal evaluation support from region and central office administrators?

Yes 56%

No 36%

Does your LSC have access to outside resources-such as educational studies, best practices or evaluation tools-to effectively evaluate your principal?

Yes 76%

No 19%

Has your LSC interviewed candidates and chosen a new principal?

Yes 59%

No 41%

Asked of those who had hired a new principal:

What challenges did your council face during principal selection?

Personal agendas among LSC members 39%

Lack of time 24%

None or other (poor training, lack of forms) 22%

Shortage of qualified candidates 10%

Poorly qualified candidates 5%

Were you pleased with the quality of principal candidates?

Yes 59%

No 27%

LSC training

Have you completed the mandatory 18 hours of training?

Yes 94%

No 6%

Are you satisfied with the quality of training you received?

Yes 67%

No 29%

How could training be improved?

Personal trainers to assist with budget review and principal evaluation 71%

Creating a standard training guide 31%

Visiting effective LSCs 29%

More training hours 14%

Other responses included hands-on training, role-playing, more access to central office, more training times and training by organizations, not the board.

School performance

Q. Are you satisfied with your school’s academic performance? What can the LSC do to improve results?

“I am happy with the academic performance, but to improve things we need to have access to the computers for research. We need to learn how to improve the library … extended programs like Saturday schooling for research programs, especially for older students to prepare them for high school.”

Tracy Crudup, parent, Dubois Elementary

“When I joined the council, we are on academic probation, and we are no longer. The LSC can put in programs for students who aren’t typically college-bound. I think there are opportunities.”

Richard Gustafson, community member, Senn High

“I don’t know. We’ve gone through hell over the last 12 years. People don’t understand what the LSCs responsibilities are. It’s been a giant struggle between principal, faculty and members [in the past.]”

Rene Cap, teacher, Revere Elementary

“Realistically, the LSC can’t do anything. In my experience, the school board is this intangible entity that sets all these rules and guidelines…. It’s shameful.”

Cathy Karnuth, parent, Scammon Elementary

“The LSC needs more information and more input into the school improvement plan. That’s done by the principal and teachers. The LSC parents don’t have much input into it. I’ve heard some [LSCs] are really effective and some are kind of maniacal. Ours is sort of vegetative.”

Mary Pallasch, teacher, Henry Elementary

LSC elections

Q. Recent LSC elections have not attracted enough candidates. What can be done to encourage more people to get involved with their neighborhood schools and run for a seat on the LSC?

“Spread the word… put it on the marquee [in front of the school.] The one thing I know will work for sure is some kind of monetary compensation. Child care during the meetings. Go out into the community and put fliers up.”

Verga Gaston, parent, Englewood High

“I tell [parents] to get involved. They always say yes, but at the last minute, they back out. Parents have fear of asking questions because [they do not speak English]. If it’s a bilingual school, there should be translators.”

Micaela Rico, parent, Farragut High

“I don’t think that it’s a bad thing that there are not a lot of people running for [the LSC]. If there are a lot of people running, then that’s because they’re upset with what’s happening with the school. [Not having contested LSC seats] doesn’t necessarily show a disinterest. We fill the slots, but we don’t have the competition.”

Deena Carroll, teachers, Dever Elementary

“Many parents don’t have the confidence and are sort of in awe of the office. … [M]ake it seem more accessible, make LSC members available at school functions. …[H]ave committees where non-LSC members are encouraged to serve.”

Margaret Dunne, community member, Volta Elementary

“Schneider is an inner-city school. … [LSCs are] just one more thing you have to do. There are certainly no perks on being on LSC for a teacher, except maybe knowing what’s going on in the building.”

Kathy Roberts, teacher, Schneider Elementary