Elsewhere

INDIANAPOLIS, IND.

City wants blacks back. In February, a federal judge rejected a bid by the Indianapolis public schools to reclaim 5,500 black students who are currently bused to suburban schools under a 16-year-old court order, according to the March 12 issue of Education Week.

Probation promotes collaboration at Riis, Harper

Joining them are Principal Susan Milojevic; Daniel Laubacher of Northeastern Illinois University, the school’s external partner; and probation manager JoAnn Roberts, a former Chicago public schools administrator who now is superintendent of the Hazel Crest School District.

Elsewhere

The state pays the townships $47 million to educate Indianapolis transfer students this year, including $3.5 million for transportation. The townships argue that the higher spending is needed to overcome the disadvantages faced by inner-city children. Their representatives, including Day, deny that money is their prime motivation in wanting to keep the transfer students.

Comings and goings

AT PERSHING ROAD The Rev. Janette C. Wilson, who was executive director of Operation PUSH before it merged with the Rainbow Coalition, is heading up the Reform Board’s Interfaith Partnership project, working out of the Office of Schools and Regions. … Christine Hoagland, the system’s second budget director in two years, has stepped down and is now a budget advisor to Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas. CPS Comptroller Andrew Gilchrist is acting budget director. … Karen Swoiskin, an assistant deputy director of user services in the information technology department, has been named treasurer. … Tim Martin has been named operations chief, replacing Ben Reyes, who now heads up the Public Building Commission.

Rainbow/PUSH education summit

Since then, Rainbow/PUSH has taken the conference’s 10-point action plan on the road to drum up support from other urban school districts. Last month, Jackson toured schools in New Orleans. Visits to Milwaukee and Memphis school districts are in the works.

Principal standards

In addition to having the appropriate administrative certificate from the state, principals also must:

Have a master’s degree.

Have a combination of at least six years of classroom and administrative experience.

Have completed 70 hours of administrative course work in areas such as teacher observation, coaching and personnel remediation.

Harper High School

Office of Accountability recommendations:

l. Have staff participate in professional development in classroom management, instruction and team building.

2. Design daily academic activities that stretch students’ thinking.

3. Involve the entire staff in peer- and self-evaluation.

Riis Elementary School

Office of Accountability recommendations

l. Regulate heat on the third floor, decorate the remaining building, complete repairs to washrooms in a timely manner and clean the building more effectively.

2. Expand the 3rd-grade “teaming” approach using strengths and interests of teachers.

3. Request a preschool program, and be prepared to build a case for a preschool if denied.

From remediation to national honor

Last month, CVS received national recognition for its educational reform efforts. Along with four other schools singled out by the U.S. Department of Education, CVS will receive help expanding and promoting its initiatives under a project called “Changing the Subject: The New Urban High School.”

The latest on central office activities

After hearing Intervention Director Phil Hansen explain that staff would visit schools to see whether they were doing what they said they were going to do, board member Gene Saffold demanded: “Isn’t there a qualitative aspect to this? I mean, how can we make sure that we’re doing these things well?”

Law exempts Chicago from safety survey

State law requires every other school district to make a comprehensive survey of such hazards and then to set priorities for eliminating them. That information is sent to the state for review. If state officials affirm that the district has life-safety problems and has set its priorities correctly, the school district gets to levy a special property tax to help it make repairs.

Public Building Commission not much better

Since 1989, the PBC has done about $650 million in work for the School Board, with about $407 million going into rehab and $250 million going into new buildings.

Asked for an account of what rehab work was done, when, and at what cost, PBC spokesperson Susan Ross replies: “We can account for it, but it isn’t like I can give you right now a chart with every detail.” Because of the way the PBC keeps its records, she says, finding such information is “like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Where we got our numbers

The board’s year-end financial statement from last year shows $364 million raised from bond sales and other sources. “We clearly didn’t have $430 million,” says Assistant Budget Director Karen Burke. “Your revenue is your outside constraint.” The rest of the $430 million, Burke says, represents work that has been scoped out but for which no contracts have been bid.

State law, new management turn pipe dream into reality

The legislation, for one, gave the board access to large sums of previously earmarked money—more than $60 million that had gone to teacher pensions, for example, and more than $26 million in state Chapter 1 funds.

With this money and budget cuts—$78 million in central office employees and non-teaching staff, for example—the board was able to take an existing source of revenue that had been paying for general operations and divert it to pay off principal and interest on bonds.

Where are the dollars going, and for what?

Dan Weissmann’s front-page report on the Reform Board’s failure to provide a public accounting of what it has spent on construction and renovation is not an article we set out to do. We wanted to provide a comprehensive picture of the building boom under way in Chicago’s public schools. We began asking for the information last November, to no avail. Then, we learned that other organizations had been asking for the information, to no avail. And so a different kind of story emerged. Then, with only one workday left before our deadline, we got more than 200 pages of fine print. Stay tuned.