|Waiting to speak at CPS|
Felix Gonzalez was the hearing officer appointed by the Office of New Schools.
Aspira was also on the docket. Aspira's Chairman and CEO both spoke about the astonishingly quick success of their "self-imposed turnaround," which happened just in the nick of time for them to apply for renewal of their charter, which they received in February. They have requested approval for an Aspira Business & Finance High School and indicated that they have already secured $12 million in state funds to build at 2989 N. Milwaukee. No one else spoke for or against this proposal.
Where does all this state money come from?
UNO had a number of items on its request list, including permission to: change the address of UNO Soccer Academy, which will move into its new building in the fall; locate its 15th charter school at 4420 S. Fairfield (k-8 program); and expand UNO's program at St. Scholastica to include grades 9-12. Their spokesperson, Mr. Quijano, indicated that the RP high school would have a college prep curriculum with a performing arts focus. UNO also requested to postpone opening (already approved?) sites #16 and 17 until fall of 2014.
Four of us presented "10 Reasons Why UNO Should Not Expand in Rogers Park," and we submitted the document with supporting artifacts for the official record (to Claire Henderson, CPS Office of New Schools). Byron Sichgo from UIC also spoke against the Rogers Park proposal. Really, most of the reasons we presented argue against expanding charters anywhere, although we did include information specific to Rogers Park and UNO. I am just sorry the crowd wasn't a little larger. The Aspira folks seemed very pleased (relieved?) that we were there to talk about UNO, not them.
Of course the top reason why UNO's request(s) should not even be considered at this time is because they are under investigation for misuse of state grant funds. That's a pretty compelling argument on its own, but there are other reasons as well, from its academic track record to its finances. (See our press release below.)
Two people spoke in support of UNO's requests: a parent of a child enrolled in the St. Scholastica program, and a prospective parent from the southwest side.
All in all, it was a rather tame meeting. Too much so, for what's at stake.