Hyde Park-Kenwood Schools Committee homepage


The following page has been superseded by a new Schools committee home page, which aslo has links to our many education subject pages.

The Schools Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

A service of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee and the HPKCC website www.hydepark.org
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Join the Schools Committee-contact chairman Homer Ashby.

The Schools Committee

The Schools Committee of HPKCC

If you are interested in joining the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee, please contact HPKCC or chairman Nancy Baum.

The Schools Committee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference had a long and illustrious history and citywide reputation in the era well before elected local school councils. Today our revitalized committee monitors developments and progress in our neighborhood's schools, shares information about schools and educational resources and issues (including through the website), seeks collaborations with agencies and local groups, and most of all seeks to foster a conversation about the direction of our schools. We are heavily involved with promoting, growing and helping Local School Councils.

Our goal: "Every school in the neighborhood one that every parent would be glad to send their children to."

Our Committee: Co-chairs: Homer Ashby, Nancy Baum. Members: Judy Dupont, Annika Frazier-Mohammad, Judy King, Ethel Myles-Henderson, Zoe Mikva, Julie Monberg, Gary Ossewarde, Loren Santow, Helena Smith, The Reverend Larry Turpin, Julie Woestehoff.

The Committee has been working with the Local School Councils and sought as many as possible candidates to run (including a gala awards ceremony and an ad in the local paper), and on May 11 will hold a training meeting for newly elected members (United Church, 53rd, Blackstone entrance, 7 pm.) Elementary elections are on April 19, high schools April 20. Attend candidate forums--Murray March 27 6 pm, Kenwood April 3 6 pm. Visit the LSC page for more.

Examples of questions and issues being explored:

  • Mandates and reorganizations such as "No Child Left Behind," The Renaissance 2010 Plan and Mid South Schools Initiative, and ACTS
  • School test results and their implications, including achievement gaps
  • School discrepancies and rankings: What schools are left out; what are they like? What succeeds and fails? Who is left behind? Is there a pattern to the divide?
  • The arrangements between feeder and higher schools, clusters--What characteristics and mix do we want in neighborhood and selective schools, public and private?
  • How can LSCs and parental involvement be strengthened?
  • What the University of Chicago is doing in and for the South Side schools
  • The charter schools and whether they indeed lead the way
  • Kenwood Academy issues and the future of Future of Kenwood

At its monthly or bimonthly meetings, the Committee hears reports from members on lsc meetings and the schools. A common theme has been weak, though often improving, parental involvement at most schools, with little real encouragement for such involvement from CPS despite a federal mandate. LSCs are working hard on this problem. Lack of funds and CPS pressure to fundraise or spend discretionary funds even for fundamentals was another theme. Local LSCs believe that after school and special ed programs matter greatly and LSCs are working to boost such programs. LSC and PTO strength was uneven and real development programs with resource rooms are needed. The committee learned that schools that take Section 1 (poverty) funds are expected to have action plans to increase parent involvement and accountability. It was also known that there once were quarterly meetings at which lsc and parent groups from the whole area got to know each other; this now seldom happens and lscs feel isolated from each other.

Other committee activitities are helping Friends of Blackstone Library help the library be more effective in its mission and as a bridge between schools, students, families, and the maturation of youth and in rescuing and growing the Chicago Academic Games League.


Next committee and other meetings and events

Next committee meeting August 10. United Church, 1448 E. 53rd (Blackstone entry) Contact the chairman for information about meetings and activities of the Schools Committee. A dinner for LSCs and principals is being planned for September 28.


*****February 23, Thursday, 7-9 pm. HPKCC Schools Committee presented "They Are Our Schools-Take Responsibility." Our ceremony honored and gave certificates. pins and a red rose to the local school council members, sought to pump up enthusiasm for residents and parents to run in this spring's elections. We had performances by Kenwood children, followed by a few words from Arne Duncan, CPS Superintendent. The assemblage was reminded how rare councils with real responsibility and power are in the country and that studies by such organizations as Designs for Change show a direct linkage between active lscs and a school's success.

Our deepest thanks to Kenwood Academy, including Principal and staff, the Jazz Band and its director and Tenors of Distinction; Century 21, Parents United for Responsible Education, Computer Resource, and others.

The following is from the March 1, 2006 Hyde Park Herald. By Erin Meyer:

The Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference distributed 100 certificates to Hyde Park loal school council members during an awards ceremonyt at Kenwood Academy Feb. 23. The event was held to recognize current LSC members and drum up more candidates to run in the upcomin LSC election scheduled for April 19 and 20.

"We need 17,000 people to run for these positions citywide," said the Rev. Larry Turpin, pastor of the United Church of Hyde Park, who spoke as master of ceremonies. "This is the only place in the country where you have democratic, parent majority councils," he told the parents, teachers, community representatives and principals in attendance. "Ouyr LSCs make all the difference in how the schools are run. They have real power."

All the speakers at the ceremony, including Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan, encouraged anyone with a staske in the community or its children, to run for an LSC. "If you are currently on a local school council, run again. If you have never been a member of an LSC, run for the first time," said Duncan, a lifelong resident of Hyde Park.

He called the relationship between the schools and comunity in Hyde Park "extraordinary." "Hyde Park shaped my value system and beliefs," Duncan said. "It has a lot to do witht why I am raising my kids here."

Local school councils are the product of a 1988 school reform act that extablished an el3cdted council at each public school to hire and fire principals and make decision about budgerst and shcol improvement priorities.

"We would like every school in Hyde Park to be a place parents would want to send their children," said Nancy Baum, mmber of the HPKCC Schols Committee. Teh HPKCC printed and distributed certificates to LSC members from schools in Hyde Park, including Ariel Community Academy, Miriam Canter Middle school, Dyett Academic Center, Bret Harte Elementary, Kenwood Academy, Charles Kozminski Community Academy, Philip Murray Language Acadmey, William H. Ray School, Reavis Elementary and Beulah Shoesmith Elementary.

Hyde Park parent Ismail Turay Sr. was the only LSC member to receive two certificates fo his participation at Shoesmith Elementary, as community representative at Kenwood Academy [and] Kenwood Academy, as a parent representative. Turay has three children in pubic school in Hyde Park. Usman, 10 and Aisha, 9 attne Murray Language Academy. "The work LSCs do makes such a difference in the lives of our children" Turay said.

Turay's son, Omar, is currently a junior at Kenwood and plays saxophone with the Kenwod Academy Jazz Band, which performed for LSC members at the ceremony. "Osmar insisted that I run for LSC so I put him in charge of my campaign," Turay said.

The HPKCC Schools Committee offers information on LSC elections on their website hydepark.org.


Report: the March 14 2005 HPKCC Schools Committee Forum,
State of the Schools in Hyde Park and Kenwood

By Homer Ashby, Schools Committee Chairman. March 18, 2005

On Monday, March 14, 2005 the Schools Committee of the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference sponsored a forum on “The State of the Public Schools in Hyde Park/Kenwood.” Approximately 70 residents from the community were in attendance.

The evening began with musical selections from the Kozminski string ensemble, recorder ensemble, band and orchestra. Their playing was both beautiful and inspiring.

Moderator for the evening, Homer Ashby, then explained the purpose of the forum which was two-fold: 1) Bring community residents up to date on what is occurring in the public schools in Hyde Park/ Kenwood, and 2) To garner input from residents for the future agenda of the Schools Committee.

There were two presentations by the two Area Instructional Officers for our area. Virginia Vaske oversees the elementary schools and Norma Rodriguez oversees the one high school in our area, Kenwood Academy. Their power point presentations were informative and dynamic. In the question and answer period afterwards Ms. Vaske indicated that there are no plans for schools in her area regarding Renaissance 2010. Norma Rodriguez highlighted the many extra-curricular programs established at Kenwood Academy.

Representatives from each of the nine elementary schools (Ariel, Canter, Dyett, Harte, Kozminski, Murray, North Kenwood/Oakland Charter, Reavis, and Shoesmith) and Kenwood Academy were invited to make brief presentations on recent developments and concerns at their schools.

From the presentations and the discussions five items were highlighted for follow-up:


Coverage of the March 14 Forum, particularly re 2010

HP educators chime in on Renaissance 2010

Hyde Park Herald, March 23, 2005. By Kiratiana E. Freelon

[Note that this report combines matters discussed at the forum with the reporter's interviews at a later date.]

Just three months after Theodore Moran applied for a Renaissance 2010 school in Bronzeville, the local school council representative found himself signing off on a Shoesmith school budget that cut several coveted programs. While he wants to see better schools overall, as promised under Mayor Richrd M. Daley's school reform plan, he wonders what impact there will be on existing schools that face systemwide deficits--a sentiment aired at a forum March 14 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.

"I know very well that when you add new staff and focus a new staff on trying to make Ren. 2010 work, it does slice away energy and rescources on areas that still have great need," Moran said.

Renaissance 2010 proposes to create 100 new schools, designed to split evently among contract, charter and performance schools. Of the 18 "Renaissance" schools that will open this fall, five will be in Bronzeville, an area whose schools have generally performed worse than Hyde Park schools. Supporters see the plan as a way to improve the entire school system. "In order for the system to improve, each community school, each program needs to reach its fullest potential," said Phillip Hampton, director of Chicago Public School community relations.

"Hyde Park has always had good public schools, but people are very pleased to see there will be good public schools adjacent to Hyde Park as well," said Rebecca Janowitz, a former Local School Council member and CPS liaison for the University of Chicago Donoghue School, 707 E. 37th St., Transition Advisory Council (TAC). Through the TAC, Janowitz oversaw the community's involvement in developing the new U. of C. Renaissance school, which plans to use the noted instructional techniques of Norht Kenwood-Oakland Charter school, 1119 E. 46th St., and to include the distinct cultural history of Bronzeville in its curriculum.

HP Schools Targeted: - No

Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Schools Committee Chair Homer Ashby assumed that because Renaissance 2010 targets the lowest performing schools, Reavis and Kozminski might be affected by the plan because they failed to meet state and national standards last year. "There are some schools in Hyde Park area who are not performing or not doing as well as they or we would like," Ashby said. "The concern is whether those schools will be [considered for closing."

CPS schools chief Arne Duncan said no Hyde Park area schools will close. "We're really focusing on those neighborhoods that don't have great options," Duncan said. Area 15 Instructional Officer Virginia Vaske elaborated. "Renaissance 2010 identifies really low peforming schools," Vaske said. "There are no Hyde Park schools that fit that profile."

Budget Crunch and Financial Burden

Yet even with his school's assured safety, Kozminski Principal Lionell Bordelon sees a negative effect of Renaisance 2010 on the entire school system. "Ren. 2010 is what I considered a systematic dismantling of the public schools," Bordelon said. "The existing public schools are struggling with budgets and are underfunded." Bordelon said CPS neglects to mention that Renaissance 2010 schools are funded out of current budget. "They should make the state get off their chair and take care of its responsibility to fund public education.," he added. "I am going to give you a Volkswaggon budget and expect a Mercedes result."

With deficits looming, many Hydd Park schools cut progams and lost staff in their recent budget proposals. Cydney Fields, principal of Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., said Ray may lose a Spanish teacher and was recently notified that it will have to pay CPS for internet access. Vaske said all but one of her 21 schools in area 15 will lose teacher positions this fall.

But CPS Budget Director Pedro Martinez, said his office is making sure the new schools will not cost more than already existing schools and that they will balance each other financially, he said. "We added new schools but we have kids that are going to those schools that would have been going to the closed schools," Martinez said.

Renaissance 2010 will, however, hit CPS' capital budget hard, Martinez said. for example, Douglas Elementary, 3200 S. Calumet Ave., will undergo extensive renovations before it opens. To limit the financial burden, CPS expects Renaissance contract and charter schools to bring resources and school partners to the table, Hampton said. A civic busines group, New Schools for Chicago, pledged to provide $50 million for the new schools.

Duncan sees no contraditions in financially supporting charter and contract schools amid a budget deficit because better schools will strengthen to case for receiving more money from the state. "The more we create great schools, the more people are going to want to invest in public education," Duncan said.

Per-pupil Expenditure

In the longterm, Hyde Park schools can also expect Renaissance 2010 schools to lay the foundation for CPS' new per-pupil funding scheme, which it expects to gradually introduce to the entire system's schools. In an effort to achieve more equitable and transparent spending, Martinez plans to fund te 18 new Renaissance schools using a per-pupil formula, rather that the existing staff-based-formula.

Elementary and high schols wil receive a dollar amount for each student based on his or her needs, about $5,000 and $6,000, respectively. The new system woudl allow principals more freedom over their budget, Martinez said.

Fields worries that giving principals a lump sum of money will encourage the hiring of new teachers with smaller salaries but less experience. "That concerns me if there is not some kind of formula to fignure [experience] in," Fields said.


Vision and mandate for the Schools Committee:

From the Autumn, 2004 Conference Reporter, the members publication of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

By Homer Ashby, Schools Committee Chairman

The Schools Comittee of the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference has been revived and is hard at work examining issues that impact the schools in Hyde Park-Kenwood. One of the first tasks of the Schools Committee has been a review of the Schools page of the Conference's website. While the Schools page is loaded with important information about the schools in our community, the informtion can be organized better so that the webpage is much more user friendly.

The Schools Committee is eager to hear from the community regarding its concerns about schools. In that way the Committee can better plan its programs so that they are responsive to community interests . To that end the Schools Committee is in the process of planning a community forum early in 2005. Virginia Vaske, Chicago Public Schools Area Instructional Office for this region, has graciously accepted our invitation to participate in the forum so that we can learn the latest developments and plans for the public schools in our community. Please be on the lookout for the date and time for this forum.

Finally, the Schools Committee has adopted a vision for the parents, children and schools of our community. The vision is that "parents in our community would feel comfortable sending their children to any school in Hyde Park Kenwood." This is a lofty goal, but one that we feel our community can attain if we can meet, talk, plan, and work together. We invite you to join us in this cause.

If you have an interest in working with the Schools Committee, please cll the Conference office at (773) 28808343 or email hpkcc@aol.com.


Visit our Schools and Education pages:

CAGL: Chicago Academic Games League, an HPKCC Committee Affiliate Program See more discussions in Tracking Community Trends. To Calendars and Directories