CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools has extended the filing deadline for Local School Council candidates by two weeks, to March 14.
There are approximately 6,000 LSC seats up for grabs April 7 and 8 in what's been termed the largest municipal election in the United States.
A previous report by DNAinfo Chicago showed that on Feb. 12, fewer than 800 candidates had stepped forward. At that time, a spokeswoman for the district said CPS had been "working aggressively" to inform parents and community members about the opportunity and deadlines, citing community rallies, online and grassroots outreach, and ads on CTA buses and billboards and in community newspapers.
By Wednesday, the initial filing deadline, 2,899 candidates had submitted nomination materials, according to CPS.
At Wednesday's Board of Education meeting, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the rampant apathy was no surprise considering the way the board and CPS had run roughshod over LSCs, as in last summer's school budget cuts. "Parents in the community are not fooled by their lack of authority," Lewis said.
In 2012, CPS faced a similar dearth of LSC hopefuls. Just two days before the filing deadline, fewer than 2,000 candidates had stepped forward, prompting a coalition of community groups to successfully petition then-CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard to extend the filing date.
The lack of candidates stands in stark contrast to the 17,256 Chicagoans who ran in 1989's initial LSC elections. More than 300,000 people cast ballots.
Local School Councils were created by the Chicago School Reform Act of 1988 to give parents and community members greater input into the running of schools.
Members' major responsibilities include approving the use of school funds, hiring and evaluating the school's principal, and developing and monitoring the annual school improvement plan.
Parents and community members who are interested in running for their LSC in 2014 must file the appropriate paperwork at their respective school by March 14 at 3 p.m. — candidates cannot file via email or fax. Interested individuals need to provide two pieces of identification and fill out three forms: a candidate nomination form (essentially name and address), a criminal conviction form and a telephone number disclosure form.
LSC members serve two-year, unpaid terms, beginning July 1. Parent reps, which includes legal guardians, are required to have a child currently enrolled at the school. Community reps must reside within the school's attendance boundaries. Relatives of the principal and employees of the school board are ineligible to run.
Voting will take place 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 7 for elementary schools, and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 8 for high schools.