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CPS Asks for Applications to Open New Charter Schools on NW and SW Sides

By Emily Morris | August 14, 2013 9:49am | Updated on August 14, 2013 10:39am
 The maps of priority community areas for new elementary schools (l.) and new high schools, as outlined in CPS' request for proposals for new charter schools.
The maps of priority community areas for new elementary schools (l.) and new high schools, as outlined in CPS' request for proposals for new charter schools.
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Chicago Public Schools

CHICAGO — Even though 50 Chicago Public Schools were closed this year, and remaining schools face slashed budgets, the district is moving to open new charter schools on the Northwest and Southwest sides.

CPS posted its 2013 request for proposals asking for applicants to "demonstrate the capacity to run high quality new charter schools." Officials said the request is an annual event.

The Chicago Board of Education in May voted to close an historic 50 schools, and some community groups and aldermen then expressed concern about the idea of opening charter schools even as public schools were closing.

For the 2012-13 school year, CPS had, out of its 681 total schools, nearly 100 charter school campuses, which are publicly funded but run privately by companies and other organizations.

The request for proposals does not specifically state how many more charter schools CPS wants to open, but asks for ideas for schools that would open in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. CPS said they have welcomed charter proposals this way for 10 years.

The request asks for "teachers, administrators, national education management organizations, current school leadership teams, and non-profit institutions from Chicago and nationwide" to respond by Aug. 26. 

In the RFP the district indicates the schools would be opened in certain neighborhoods on the Northwest and Southwest sides that the district said are experiencing overcrowding. However, applicants may suggest other neighborhoods for their new schools. Many of the 50 public schools that were closed were located on the West and South sides.

“CPS must provide every student in every community access to a high-quality education that prepares them for college, career and life," CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said in an emailed statement.

"Just as we have worked to address our under-utilization crisis, CPS must also address the problem of overcrowding as there are several neighborhoods within our District with more students than seats available at their local school. By issuing this state mandated RFP, as CPS has done for the last 10 years, our goal is to seek out potential proposals to create more high quality school options for parents, and this is merely one step in that process,” Carroll said.

CPS asks that proposals for high schools focus on the Northwest and Southwest sides, while priority elementary schools areas include Albany Park and Irving Park, Ashburn, Belmont Cragin (North of Grand Ave.), Chicago Lawn (West of Kedzie Ave.), McKinley Park, Midway (South of 51st St.), Little Village (West of Western Ave.), Reed-Dunning and Sauganash. 

"Successful applicants must demonstrate strong ties to the particular community in which their proposed school will be located and provide evidence of parent and community demand and support," CPS stated in part of the RFP.

CPS also outlines what it calls "priority models" for the charter schools, which include "Next Generation," (a mix of online learning and in-school instruction) "Arts-Integration," "Dual Language," and "Humanities-Focused," though it said it does not limit applicants to those models.

In addition to taking heat for closing schools, CPS has also come under fire after recently announcing a property tax hike and for widespread individual school budget cuts, which amount to about $68 million. Some principals have said that the cuts have led them to cut teaching positions and educational programs.