Budlong Principal critical of CPS, Lack of Support for Longer Day

Principal Al Solomon used his Principal’s Report to the Budlong Local School Council Tuesday to criticize the Chicago Public Schools push for a longer school day telling the council there was a lack of coordination and information coming from the central office about the topic.

Most CPS schools will add 90 minutes to their schedule starting with the 2012-3 school year. The plan for an extended school day was a central feature of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education plan and also of CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.

“The Longer School Day Pioneer Program is built on a simple fact – Chicago Public School students spend 15% less time in the classroom than the average American public school student,” according to the CPS web site It is a fact that is disputed.

Solomon started by noting the school had a refugee position that is filled. But the school has not received funding for the position for six weeks, he noted.

Then he noted that Budlong has been reporting truancy of five days and ten days as required, but has discovered that there isn’t a truancy office at the CPS central office.

“Support departments such as Truancy and Refugee are not being funded,” he noted.

Which brought him to the extended school day.

“The plan for the extended day is to use if for recess and lunch,” Solomon said.

“Where is more educational time?” Solomon asked.

Solomon pointed to webinars presented by CPS that extolled the extended day in other districts without giving guidance on how to use the new time in CPS. The webinars lack specifics he said.

What is the plan for the older CPS building, such as Budlong, that lack adequate indoor facilities for recess during inclement weather, Solomon asked.

Budlong was originally constructed in 1907, with additions in 1913, 1955 and 1996, according to the Chicago Public Schools. Its age actually puts it on the younger half of the scale of age for area public school buildings. McPherson, built in 1888, is considered the oldest school building in the area. However it has had a substantial addition to its facilities.

The most recent building in the neighborhood is Courtenay, built in 1949.

Adequate indoor facilities to accomodate recess requirements is a concern for many area schools. However Solomon is the first to address the issue in a public manner.

Solomon said the extended day will have the following effects:

  • Student day extended by 90 minutes.
  • School year extended by 10 additional days (two weeks).
  • Students will receive a 45 minute lunch/ recess each day.
  • Teachers will receive longer lunch periods.
  • Teachers will work 60 additional minutes on class preparation each day (this will take the place of early morning preparation).

 

Examine the CPS site promoting the extended school day.

The Chicago Teachers union Addresses the push for an Extended Day.

Catalyst says extended school hours have a casual relationship with improved test scores.

Read a just released report by teachers on how to use the extended hours.

Read Eric Zorn’s Webliography of resources on the debate about the extended school day.

Read Whet Moser’s analysis of the argument.

Read about the pettiness of CPS and the Union.

The North Side High School Initiative FaceBook Page.

Raise Your Hand for Illinois Education web site.

Grow 47 Web site.

PURE Parents Blog on the longer school day.

 

Transparency Note: Jane Rickard, a Welles Park Bulldog founder, is a CPS employee and member of the Chicago Teachers Union. She works at Budlong and other schools. Rickard is married to the writer, Patrick Boylan.

 

New and improved North Side Schools scorecard

Below you’ll find a new and improved North Side Schools map.

What happened? Soon after the previous map was issued the Chicago Tribune issued its summary of the ISAT scores. Frankly there wasn’t any new information there. (Although some of the data visualizations may make the report useful).

And the Chicago Public Schools issued its School Progress Report.  This was full of great information and we wanted to update the map based on what was there. Make no mistake, though, as we reported a few weeks ago, the so-called “comprehensive map” is not so good.

We proud to give you what a parent needs to make decisions.

We’ll update the high school map shortly.

 

 

Download a PDF of the spreadsheet (With a big tip of the hat to reader Kim McCarten for helping us see our shortcomings).

 

Ravenswood and North Attendance elementary schools scorecard

***UPDATED 12/2/2011 A more recent version of the map and spreadsheet are available.***

 

How would you rank our area public schools?

In the next week parents will be sent a new report by the Chicago Public Schools. According to media reports, the ‘progress reports’ will accompany student report cards starting today.

The reports will emphasize students reaching benchmarks to go to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. Other indicators will include “teacher and staffing information, graduation rates, school climate, leadership and parent satisfaction,” the report says.

All of these measures are available through independent sources gathered here for you by The Bulldog.

Using surveys published within the past 18 months by Newsweek and Chicago Magazine, test scores compiled and analyzed by the Chicago Sun-Times, input from parents, students and community members on GreatSchools and in a University of Chicago survey and finally data provided by the Chicago Public Schools, The Bulldog set out this week to understand our public school system.

It is a difficult system to navigate. In the Ravenswood area there are four area public high schools: Lane Tech, Amundsen, Lake View and DeVry. In addition, a high school student has a wide choice of other schools. And a small part of our coverage has attendance at other schools, Roosevelt and Senn.

Mistakes made by parents and adults are paid for by children.

And we find this very frustrating, virtually no one in politics takes responsibility for the problems. They blame unions, parents, ‘the schools.’ We might look no deeper than the TIF issue to understand how this sorry situation has been twisted to benefit long-time politicians.

The Bulldog chose to start by creating a database that presents in one place a place for you to examine all the information on your school choices. We’ve presented this information to you as a searchable Google map and as a spread sheet that you can use to sort, filter and examine the information.

Today, we start with our area elementary schools.

In addition, we’ve added an outline so that parents who don’t live in Ravenswood or the North Attendance area can follow along and develop their own database.

Did you have a suggestion? Did you see an error? Drop it in the comments and we’ll try to deal with it.

 

Ravenswood area neighborhood schools

North Attendance Area selective enrollment schools

 

 

The Ratings and Rankings

Further Notes on the Schools

 

Political Representation

Q: Where is the information from? What does it mean?

A: CPS Performance rating is a ranking of 1-100 issued for each school by the Chicago Public Schools. A score of 100 is best. If a school is on probation this is noted in the balloon. The information is available on the CPS.edu website.

The Chicago Sun-Times ranking of elementary schools (classes K-5), middle schools (classes 6-8) and high schools (classes 9-12) ranks schools based on the number of schools ranked. A ranking of one is best.

The University of Chicago Consortium study of CPS schools is exhaustive, covering many of the ‘soft’ issues that educators and parents believe are important to success. Each school has exhaustive reports including surveys of students who praise and critique the school. This ranking is based on a scale of -5 to +5. +5 is considered the best.

The Chicago Magazine ranking of schools was published in June 2010. The ranking of the top 250 elementary schools includes both city and suburban public schools. A ranking of 1 is best.

The GreatSchools site invites parents, students and educators to discuss their school. This rating is based on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best and is awarded by the site. Further scores are published for community involvement.

Q: I don’t see my school. Why? 

A: Maybe we missed it? Ask a comment, we’ll answer. Other reasons: this is a site primarily designed for neighbors in the Ravenswood neighborhood. In the process of creating the database we attempted to identify every school choice for Ravenswood parents in CPS. That means that all of the North Attendance Area selective enrollment schools should be included.

Parents in the other two attendance area will need to develop their own data base. (This is really time consuming, but we’ll help by showing what we did. See our outline, below).

Q: My school shows a N/A or a N/R. What does that mean?

The reports are not comprehensive. In some cases no data was posted for a school.

In the case of one school, Chicago International Charter School, also known as CICS, we had issues with the data as it was sometimes aggregated for the more than 4,000 students in the CICS system of schools instead of for each school. Why is that important? Examine the relative differences for the Noble Street Schools, also charters, and you’ll see that the information should be broken down by school.

Q: One survey says the school is on probation, another lists it among the best, still another says the school didn’t meet Annual Yearly Progress. Help!

It is difficult to penetrate all the lingo used by educators. Our advice is to stop them when the initials come out and ask them to explain each set of initials.

There are differences in how different measures view the progress of a school. You as an adult will need to evaluate the different measures and make an informed decision.

Now, the AYP trips up even the best schools. A school can fail to meet AYP for RELATIVELY low scores in math or reading. We believe you’ll find AYP reports for the top three schools in the area. In some cases, the students in some categories, such as minorities or disabled, scored in the 80′s, missing the AYP of a score in the 90′s.

In other cases, among the poorest scoring schools, AYP demanded scores in the twenties or thirties and were missed. It is all RELATIVE.

But it is also an indicator of where the resources of the school, often determined by the Local School Council, should be focused.

Q: What other advice do you have for a parent?

First, we’ve listed the politicians responsible for these schools. This is not only your money, it is your child’s future being screwed up. Hold them responsible for improving the schools.

We’ve found the politicians love to cut ribbons, but they are also taking property taxes from TIF districts and using them for planters and special deals for developers. YOU have to say you notice and are holding them responsible for the schools.

The second advice we have is to dive deep into the University of Chicago Consortium report. The report explores areas that experts, parents and students all agree are critical to academic success. Here is one example, one school in the area discusses poor leadership with teachers criticizing each other.  That is an area of concern.

Which brings us to our final piece of advice. Go to the Local School Council meeting. Introduce yourself to the parent and community member representatives. If every parent in the school made a commitment to attend one LSC meeting during the year there would be dramatic increases in LSC participation.

Q: My primary language is Spanish (or Polish or Greek or something else). Do you have this report available in Spanish?

No. We are language illiterate here at The Bulldog. We apologize. There is a widget available that can give a rough translation of the text. You’ll find it on the sidebar to the right.

Q: Okay, but how was this information gathered? How do I do it for my neighborhood school that is not in Ravenswood?

Follow the instructions below.

  1. CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS DATA… Go to the following link and to find your school: http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Find_a_school/Pages/Findaschool.aspx
    1. If you know your school name enter it in the box. The CPS site is an unfriendly site: sometimes entering part of a school name works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there is no listing when you’ve been accurate with your spelling. If you can’t find the school through the name box, enter the ZIP Code the school is in. That should give you a list of every school in the ZIP Code.
    2. Find a map of Chicago ZIP Codes here: http://www.city-data.com/zipmaps/Chicago-Illinois.html
    3. We found that looking for schools through ZIP Code returned the best results. The querry will return a list of all schools in a ZIP Code. Most schools will be ‘neighborhood’ schools. These schools have “attendance districts.” You can find the attendance districts for the city on the map here:
      1. North http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_North.pdf
      2. Near North/ West/ Central http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_Near_North_West_Central.pdf
      3. South http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_South.pdf
      4. Far South http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_Far_South.pdf
    4. If you follow the hyper-link to the school you’ll find a page called ‘At-a-glance.’ The information from our report is not on this tab. It is under the tab called “Scorecard.”
    5. Scorecard gets meaty.
      1. The performance rating we publish in our balloon comes from the bold faced number immediately below the check boxes.
      2. A second number to examine here is the probation status of the school. Charter schools are not put on probation and will have a N/A checked.
      3. Below that are scores for the previous three years detailing about nine measures. The most interesting score to us was the ‘Relative school impact on student growth’ measured against reading and math. We believe these should be positive. Negative numbers here seem to indicate the school is holding students back.
      4. Finally below, at the bottom, are some important reports presented in PDF format. We found class size by examining the ‘State School Report Card’ for each school. That was a lengthy process.
  2. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES RANKING… The Chicago Sun-Times ranking report can be found at this site: http://fh.suntimes.com/reportcards/
    1. We found that the report was difficult to navigate. So we set it up to return a list only of CPS schools, then looked for the schools we were listing.
      1. Click ‘Advanced Search’.
      2. Under District go to “City of Chicago SD 299”. Click search.
      3. The return will be a list of all CPS schools. Choose the school you are interested in.
        1. At the top of the next page will be the name of the school, attendance and the grades served. This is a very long report with a lot of great information.
        2. On the next line, below the hyper-links, the Sun-Times lists school rank.
        3. Below that is some text. Much of it is boilerplate. Take a moment to read why the school missed its AYP. Not the Composite scores in the box.
        4. Far down the page is where you can find average class size for the school. The Bulldog used a different source for its class size.
  3. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO CONSORTIUM REPORT AND RATINGS… The University of Chicago Consortium report can be found here: https://www.ccsrsurvey.uchicago.edu/2011/
    1. You’ll either need the ZIP Code or the school name to start your search. By the time we got to this report for the database, we had already developed our list of target schools. This is the best independent report and is based on independent information. All the other information is based on reports to the state. Everything else is based on the same base of information. We highly recommend reading these reports in depth.
  4. CHICAGO MAGAZINE RANKINGS… The article for Chicago Magazine starts here: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-Ranking-Charts/
    1. Follow the link to the best Chicago schools: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-City-of-Chicago/
    2. The link isn’t obvious, but the ranking continues here: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-City-of-Chicago/
    3. The immediate issue with the ranking is that it seems to be based only on the percent of students who meet or exceed the state standard. So, other factors that determine success, such as those measured by the UofC study, are ignored.
    4. Finally, it appears the data in this study is dated, as the methodology indicated it was based on reports from 2005.
  5. GREATSCHOOLS RATING… Finally we get to the GreatSchools ranking. The site notes here: http://www.greatschools.org/illinois/chicago/Chicago-Public-Schools/that deadlines for high schools are due in December and for elementary schools in January.
    1. This page allows you to browse the top ranked schools. To find a particular school we used the text box in the upper right corner. This site will anticipate your key strokes with suggestions for the school based on what you type.  The site also has comments from students, staff and parents about the school.

Bell and Lane top Sun-Times school report card

Two area public schools were named among the top 50 in the state in the annual Chicago Sun-Times ranking of Illinois schools.

Bell School was one of 13 Chicago Public Schools that met the standards for the top 50 elementary schools. The neighborhood school was one of just six District 299 schools that did not have eligibility requirements for enrollment and still was ranked by the newspaper.

Bell ranked 29th among CPS schools and 33rd in the state, the report says. The middle school classes ranked 19th in the state.

At a recent meeting of the Bell Local School Council concern was expressed that parents were pulling students from the school for the middle school Academic Center at nearby Lane Tech.

That might cause the school to experience a lower score in the future.

Although Bell was highly ranked, the school still failed to meet the requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act due to lower than accepatable reading scores among its disabled population.

Lane Tech was ranked 20th among all Illinois schools in the ranking. The large school boasts having a larger minority and low income proportion of its student body than many smaller magnet schools.

Six of those smaller schools, including nearby Northside College Prep, were ranked above Lane. The newspaper said the top three public schools in the state were all in Chicago: Northside, Whitney Young and Walter Payton.

Lake View High School was ranked 470th among 638 high schools. Amundsen ranked 536th on the same scale. Both schools were identified by the newspaper as in need of improvement for the ninth year in a row.

Lake View, the report says, is struggling with low math and reading scores among its entire population, with low scores for Hispanics and low-income students.

The problems the report highlights at Amundsen are similar, but more pronounced with lower composite scores.

Among the neighborhood elementary schools Blaine followed behind Bell, being ranked 103rd statewide and 52nd among middle schools.

Audubon and Coonley followed Blaine. Audubon was ranked 308th for elementary grades and 204th for middle schools. Coonley was ranked 388th for elementary and 391st for middle school.

Other schools and the ranks for elementary and middle school composite tests in the Sun-Times ranking:

    • Audubon ranked 308 and 204.
    • Bell ranked 29 and 19. The school did not meet AYP due to low reading scores among its disabled students.
    • Blaine ranked 103 and 52.
    • Budlong ranked 999 and 834. The Budlong composite was hurt by low reading scores. The composite fell to 80.9 percent from 81.4 the previous year.
    • Bell ranked 103 and 52.
    • Chappell ranked 1198 and 691. The composite score rose to 82.3 percent from 75.3 percent.
    • Coonley ranked 388 and 391. The school composite score fell to 90.8 from 92.0 the previous year.
    • Courtenay ranked 991 and 346. The school met the AYP, but had falling scores of 90.8 percent v 94.5 last year.
    • Hamilton scored 1422 and 880. Hamilton did not meet AYP due to reading scores. Composite has increased to 78.2 from 69.0.
    • McPherson ranked 1444 and 920. The school did not meet AYP due to reading scores and Hispanic reading scores (which actually exceeded that of the general school population) but had rising composite of 78.5 v 75.7. McPherson has been identified as in need of improvement by the newspaper for the 10th year in a row.
    • Ravenswood ranked 1698 and 1395. The school had a composite rank of 71.8 percent, up from 67.3 percent. It did not meet AYP due to math and reading scores. It has been identified as in need of improvement for the third year in a row.
    • Trumbull was ranked 1843 and 1035. The school did not meet AYP due to both math and reading scores. Trumbull has a falling composite score of 68.4 percent v 77.2. The school has been identified as in need of improvement for the first year.
    • Waters was ranked 1218 and 528. It did not meet AYP due to math scores. The school had rising composite scores of 81.1 percent versus 78.9 the previous year. Waters has been identified as in need of improvement for the 10thyear in a row.

Chicago Consortium results for schools; Mixed results

A study by the University of Chicago released this week is highlighting strengths and weaknesses in Chicago Public Schools. The study is based on results of surveys of students, faculty and parents at each of the more than 600 CPS schools, including charter schools.

The Chicago Consortium study, which asks questions pertaining to five “essential” areas summarizes the survey results as they pertain to those five areas of culture and climate.

The publication of the results is being criticized as now, according to critics on the District 299 site, schools will try to game the system.

But the results offer a detailed look at the system by researchers independent of the schools and the union.

In Ravenswood there were a number of surprises. There were schools that are well perceived by the public that had weaknesses exhibited, and some strengths too.

In general, community support for the schools is strong. That is reflected by students noting the variety of services and support in places like Lane, Blaine and Lake View.

The provision of basic classes in math and English are keys to a fulfilling adult life. Yet, some schools are disappointing, with students noting they have not experienced types of instruction needed to grow these skills.

The study puts the issue into perspective: Principals should prioritize the school’s improvement efforts; teachers should reflect on needs in and beyond the classroom; and the public should engage and support the efforts of the schools.

Below is our summary and links to finding greater detail for each of our neighborhood public schools.

 

LANE TECH

 

Lane Tech, considered a jewel in the CPS system, received a low score for math instruction. The result, based on student surveys, dragged down the overall student approval of a higher than average course clarity and English instruction giving Lane a yellow.

A low response rate among teachers limited the scoring at Lane. However students identified the Human and Social Resources in the Community as strong. The result indicates students believe they come from communities where there are adults whom they trust and who provide a save environment.

This was echoed by students saying they feel safe in and around the school building and in their travels to school.

 

Read the summary of the Lane Tech report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Lane’s results.

 

LAKE VIEW

 

Teacher response to the survey at Lake View was so low that none of the measures of their impression of performance were published.

However, the students were enthusiastic about the Human and Social Resources in the community, scored as slightly below that of Lane students on the same resources.

 

Read the summary of the Lake View report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Lake View’s results.

 

AMUNDSEN

 

Students at Amundsen criticized the math courses. The survey measured student interaction with course material to build and apply knowledge.

Teachers at Amundsen identified issues with the principal. The principal was criticized in the survey by teachers for failing to provide instructional leadership. The survey also pointed to issues with teacher and principal trust. Together, and with below average scores in other measures, the survey indicated weaknesses in instructional leadership at Amundsen.

 

 Read the summary of the Amundsen report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Amundsen’s results.

 

DeVRY ADVANTAGE

 

The only charter school in the area, DeVry Advantage, did not have a high enough response in any area to be noted on the survey.

 

What does it indicate if there is a low response rate (from the study site)

 

What was the response rate for DeVry?

 

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

 

Blaine

 

Students gave Blaine a score of 99 out of 100 on Human and Social Resources in the Community and in school safety. Blaine students also scored their trust of teachers very high. Together they pushed Blaine into a strong area on the score of Ambitious Instruction and Learning Climate.

The Blaine students also scored the math instruction as strong and noted the course clarity provided clear learning goals.

 

Read the summary of the Blaine report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Blaine’s results.

 

Budlong

 

Students were disappointed by the course clarity, math instruction, academic personalization, the ‘academic press’ or expectations from teachers.

Other weak scores were found among teachers who noted a low measure of a collective responsibility in such areas as student development, school improvement and professional growth. That was mirrored by a lack of teacher to teacher trust in the school.

As a result the school scored two areas of concern without any clear bright spots.

 

Read the summary of the Budlong report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Budlong’s results.

 

Chappell

 

Chappell performed well for its family and community ties. This result was not due to doing an outstanding job in any one area, but instead of being having overall strong survey results across a broad area of concern.

 

Read the summary of the Chappell report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Chappell’s results.

 

Coonley

 

Coonley scored very well in a number of areas related to family and community ties including 95 out of 100 points in human and social resources in the community, a student result, and teacher-parent trust, which was a teacher survey. Teachers also noted the school has strong outreach efforts to parents.

The final result was that Coonley scored one of the few ‘dark green’ among Ravenswood school in this area of concern. Dark green indicates Coonley is very strong in this general area.

Students noted they feel safe at the school, contributing to a healthy learning environment, according to the survey.

The only weakness, according to the survey of students, was that math instruction was weak. The students scored math so low that it dragged down other scores among the ambitious instruction area.

 

Read the summary of the Chappell report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Chappell’s results.

 

Courtenay

 

Courtenay scored 99 out of 100 among its students for course clarity. It had other areas of strength among students in the area of ambitious instruction and scored a dark green in this area.

Students also noted two other areas where they scored the school as 99 out of 100: student-teacher trust and school safety. A very strong score in academic personalization and above average scores in other survey results indicated students felt the learning environment was dark green.

Overall, Courtenay received two scores of exceptional strength. It was the only Ravenswood-area school to do so.

 

Read the summary of the Courtenay report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Courtenay’s results.

 

Hamilton

 

A strong English program, scored 99 out of 100 by students, led the Hamilton report. However, a low level of ‘quality of student discussion’ dragged the potential for Hamilton to score well in ambitious instruction down to an average overall score.

Teachers noted the school has a low level of collective responsibility. That seemed to stem from a lack of professional trust among teachers as they scored low in that area also.

 

Read the summary of the Hamilton report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Hamilton’s results.

 

McPherson

 

Although McPherson scored well among students for its human and social resources, it suffered from a below average scores in a number of measures of creating an ambitious academic instruction leading to a red mark in that area.

 

Read the summary of the McPherson report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into McPherson’s results.

 

Ravenswood

 

Math instruction was very poorly ranked by students, receiving just 10 of 100 points.

In general, average scores in other areas did not allow Ravenswood to stand out.

 

Read the summary of the Ravenswood report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Ravenswood’s results.

 

Trumbull

 

A red note on creating an ambitious academic environment was lead by students scoring only 13 of 100 points for English instruction at Trumbull. Math instruction was also scored low, with students giving the school just 22 of 100 points.

 

Read the summary of the Trumbull report.

 

Go to the original report to explore further into Trumbull’s results.

Survey shows some schools still have K openings, some very tight

A survey of the 12 public schools in or serving the Ravenswood neighborhood show enrollment at some schools is very tight, while others can still accept Kindergarten enrollments.

Eleven of the schools were neighborhood schools, meaning the schools have an attendance boundary. Only one of the neighborhood schools, Ravenswood, said it had no opening in Kindergarten classes remaining for today. According to the clerk at the school, Ravenswood had a waiting list of 200 for any openings in K

Courtenay, a small school of just 164 students, said it had no openings. Courtenay is a North Area school, meaning parents across the North Region of the Chicago Public Schools may apply to attend the school.

Trumbull reported to the Bulldog it had about ten openings left. Chappell and McPherson also reported openings.

Waters, Hamilton, Bell, Coonley, Budlong, Blaine and Audubon all said they had openings, but only for children who lived within their districts.

In total, 33 classes of Kindergarten will start today in the Ravenswood area. Bell reported the largest sized class: about 30. Most schools indicated the Kindergarten classes will be about 20 or less.

Parents still wishing to enroll their five-year old in Kindergarten should immediately contact their neighborhood school for details on enrollment requirements.

About 200 families remain on a waiting list to place their child in Kindergarten at Ravenswood School, a survey found. Credit: Patrick Boylan

Chappell wins an Illinois Spotlight Award

Our friends over at Chicago Real Estate Local note not only that Chappell School has won an Illinois Spotlight School Award in 2010, but the end of the year for the PreK students.

“We enjoyed a fantastic year at Chappell Elementary’s Preschool program,” the post by Eric Rojas says. “Classes were a joy and the kids really grew over the year.”

The Illinois Spotlight Schools award is given to schools that meet three criteria:

  • At least half the students enrolled are classified as low income
  • The school made “Adequate Yearly Progress” in 2009 and 2010 as defined by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act.
  • At least 60 percent of  students met or exceeded standards in both reading and mathematics in 2010 and at least 50 percent of students met or exceeded those same standards in 2009 and 2008.

In addition to Chappell, Courtenay received the honor. Only 47 schools in the city were recipients of the award, according to the web-site for Illinois Spotlight Schools.

Read more at Chicago Real Estate Local.

Read more at Illinois Honor Role.

Area still affected by snowfall; parking tight, impassable sidewalks

A late-night survey of Ravenswood streets indicate there are some issues with sidewalks, but that the morning commute should be generally safe for both children and workers.

The Bulldog looked at a number of locations between 10:30 – 11:30P Sunday. The examination followed a second two inch snow fall on Saturday night/ Sunday morning, but before crews from private firms may have completed their work early on Monday.

In general, sidewalks need another round of work, with a light layer of crushed snow on many of the area walks. However the deep snow has been cleared to create paths, for the most part. Persons with disabilities are in the most danger. Cuts in the ridges between streets and sidewalks have not been adequately cleared, meaning those persons may need to stay in traffic.

Children walking to school should be okay, especially if they don’t cross bridges.

CTA train and bus stops, the Martha Washington senior complex, the Lill Street Art Center, the North Center district and Lincoln Square were generally in good shape. Smaller business districts, such as the Rockwell Crossing and Ravenswood Manor also appeared to be in good shape.

However, there were some areas that needed attention too.

A long stretch of Ravenswood Ave., between Irving Park Rd. and Montrose has not had any parking spots plowed. In addition, there are sidewalks in that area, which appear to belong under the jurisdiction of the Ravenswood Special Service Area, SSA 31, which have not been cleared.

A narrow path, only as wide as a single adult, marks the limit of work done in this area. It is not complete either as some sidewalks within the SSA were not cleared Sunday evening.

A person in a wheel chair would have a lot of difficulty navigating the sidewalk throughout SSA 31.

A similar situation is taking place at the Sulzer Library. There a narrow path allows access. It does not appear wide enough for a wheel chair. And, it does not turn the building on its south end. This building lies within SSA 38. Although the SSA map indicates the SSA does not cover the triangular lot immediately south of Sulzer.

Welles Park appears to be in good shape, if you can get to a sidewalk. We examined the crossing at Bell and Montrose and saw a trench between Montrose and the sidewalk. It would prevent many people from leaving the street to get to the safety of the sidewalk. As we drove along Montrose, we saw only two spots that had cuts in the ridge between the street and the sidewalk, between Western and Lincoln.

Area schools, whether in SSAs or outside SSA districts, whether public or private, appeared to be in good shape. We examined a number of schools, including St. Ben’s, St. Andrew, Waters, Ravenswood, McPherson and Courtney. All these schools appeared to have good curb service and good sidewalk clearance.

Martha Washington is completely in SSA 38. The senior center appears to have had good clearance of the internal lots. We did not inspect the sidewalks here. In general SSA 38 was in very good shape. The one exception we saw was the Town Center. This is a piece of open land on Belle Plaine, running between Damen and Lincoln Ave.

The Town Center does not appear to have had any work done on it.

Bridges over the Chicago River have drawn the attention of neighbors from Ravenswood Manor and the Greater Rockwell Organization. The long stretches of sidewalk are often left undone. Happily the Wilson Ave. Bridge appears to have been done over the weekend.

The Lawrence Ave. bridge was not so fortunate. It was obvious that no effort had been made to clear the bridge. The north side of the span lies between Ronan Park, owned by the Chicago Park District, and a sewerage pumping station owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

Several parks appeared to be in poor shape. These included Gross Park, Manor Park and the Vogle playlot.

Levy Senior Center and the Bethany Retirement Community appeared to be in acceptable shape, but needed additional clearing. A property on Lawrence at Maplewood, which lies within the SSA 21 district, did not appear to have had any work done on its sidewalk.

What is an SSA? These are generally commercial areas created by the city to provide “enhanced” services to businesses. Among the most prominent of those services is snow removal. It is not clear if Ravenswood Ave., which is under the management of the Ravenswood Community Council as a contractor for the city, is responsible for snow removal of parking spots. As this story is being posted, the RCC office is closed and we were unable to ask for more information.

However The Bulldog examined a similar industrial area on Campbell from Irving Park Rd. north for about two blocks. For the most part, the snow clearance on this much smaller stretch of industrial street was much better than that found on Ravenswood.

But there are reasons why that may have happened. For one, the 47th Ward Yard is located in that area. In addition, there may be a homeland security need for that street to be kept clear.

Property owners in SSAs pay for the enhanced services through additional property tax. The Lincoln Square SSA, SSA 21, is managed by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. The North Center SSA, SSA 38, is managed by the NorthCenter Chamber of Commerce.

Critics have called on SSAs to be eliminated. Calling them a hidden tax, Tom Tresser, a community activist said that if businesses need these services they should look to themselves.

Bell shines in disappointing school report

Bell School was ranked 13th among all CPS elementary schools in an internal grading of all district schools obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Bell School was ranked 13th among all CPS elementary schools in an internal grading of all district schools obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

Bell School was given an “A” grade by the Chicago Public Schools and was ranked 13th among all Chicago Public elementary schools in an internal school board report of academic performance, a Bulldog analysis of Chicago Tribune data released this morning indicates.

The data, which gives a dark picture of failing schools and a generation of students suffering from inadequate education, was obtained by the Tribune and described by the newspaper’s report as coming from “internal documents.”

What’s novel about this measure is that it offers a glimpse of the district’s own view of school quality,” the report said. “The ratings take in a variety of indicators including test scores, dropout rates and attendance. The scores are based on 2008-2009 test results as well as trends over time.”

[For a full discussion of the grades, what they mean, what observers make of them and maybe why they are not a full and complete picture of the schools, see the original Tribune article.]

In the Ravenswood neighborhood the numbers are disappointing. Three of the four high schools in the neighborhood are rated C-. Amundsen and Lake View, both ranked as a C-, however, saw improvements in their score, year over year. The three schools have 3,437 students registered and include one charter school, DeVry Advantage Academy.

Three neighborhood schools are given D+ or D- grades, McPherson, Trumbull and Ravenswood. The three schools registered 1,598 students, the report says.

Overall, 45.07 percent of high school students in CPS attend schools that are given an F. While half the 19 high schools ranked as Failing showed improvement year over year, 18 lost ground, the report indicates.

Including schools with a D+ or worse, 71,753 CPS students, fully 69.46 percent of CPS high school students, are enrolled in schools with poor performance.

Ravenswood Elementary School falls into the category of risk with a D- score. It’s overall score fell by more than half, it was scored as a C+ last year. 431 students attend Ravenswood according to the report.

Two other Ravenswood neighborhood schools fell into the D+ range: McPherson and Trumbull. McPherson’s performance fell from a C+ in the previous year while Trumbull fell from a B+ in the previous year.

Coonley saw dramatic improvement. It was ranked a B+, good enough to be ranked 51st among all CPS elementary schools. Courtenay, which saw its score fall slightly from a B to a B-, was ranked 72nd among all CPS elementary schools.

To see the data used by the Tribune, download here.

HIGH SCHOOLS OVERALL

Grade # Schools Enrollment
A 3 2706
A- 1 2262
B+ 1 4208
B 2 4606
B- 3 1275
C 6 7382
C- 13 12152
D+ 4 7012
D 12 10001
D- 8 8184
F 40 46556
TOTAL 95 103289

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS OVERALL

Grade # Schools Enrollment
A+ 5 4086
A 13 7628
A- 25 14477
B+ 5 4086
B 12 6431
B- 23 14248
C+ 42 29067
C 62 37155
C- 62 34504
D+ 42 29067
D 37 18133
D- 51 25598
F 108 50474
TOTAL 487 274954

NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS

School Name Overall rank Enrollment 2008-9 Score 2009-10 Score Grade
Lane Tech 6 4208 75 75 B
Amundsen 17 1589 44.4 45.4 C-
DeVry
Advantage Academy
22 197 63.5 50.8 C-
Lake View 25 1651 41.7 44.4 C-
HS Total 7645
Bell 13 944 81 88.1 A
Coonley 51 444 47.6 78.6 B+
Courtenay 72 236 74.4 71.4 B-
Waters 132 450 64.3 69 C+
Budlong 145 861 76.2 57.1 C
Chappell 149 426 61.9 59.5 C
McPherson 286 699 64.3 47.6 D+
Trumbull 293 468 78.6 45.2 D+
Ravenswood 419 431 66.7 33.3 D-
Elementary
Total
4959

Bulldog in FOIA dispute with CPS over LSC candidates

The Welles Park Bulldog is seeking to force the Chicago Public Schools to release the nominating petitions of residents running for Local School Council in eleven schools, part of an effort by the on-line publication that pits privacy issues against the public’s right to know.

The Form 1-10, used by candidates for election to Local School Council

The Chicago Public Schools are claiming a form that states "the names and addresses of Local School Council members are a matter of public record" shouldn't be released to the Bulldog.

In a March 12th letter by Bulldog attorney Terrance Norton, Director of the Center for Open Government, to the Chicago Public Schools Freedom of Information Act Officer, Cassandra Daniels, the Bulldog requested the nominating petitions, known as Form 1-10, of Bell, Coonley, Ravenswood, Waters, Budlong, Chappell, McPherson, Courtenay, Lake View, Amundsen and Lane schools.

The form, which can be accessed here: [http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/LSC/Form%201-10%20Candidate%20Nomination%20Form%20-%20ENGLISH.pdf], includes information the school board claims is personal and subject to an exemption under the FOIA law. Norton said that although he has had telephone conversations with Daniels, as of March 23, Norton says the school board has not replied with a written explanation of its decision. Illinois law requires public bodies to reply to FOIA requests within five working days.

“I do not agree that the use of those exemptions is proper as to the requests for the nominating petitions,” Norton said. “My client works for an electronic media that seeks to educate parents as to the qualifications of LSC candidates; and he needs to get and disseminate the information prior to the upcoming LSC elections.”

“I find it disturbing that the schools ignored the initial request of attorney Norton,” Welles Park Bulldog Editor Patrick Boylan said. “The schools, which are charged with teaching the value of our constitution, are presenting students with an excellent example of government non-responsiveness to public demands as represented by enactment of the revised FOIA laws in Illinois.

“Second, it is difficult for citizens to evaluate the character and aims of candidates without an open accounting by the candidates,” Boylan said. Boylan noted that the decision by the school district to extend the date to accept LSC nominating petitions meant that in some schools, the LSC public forum could happen before the nominating process closes.

The school board encourages people to become involved in “democratic government” at the “grass roots” level, Boylan noted, but attempts to put roadblocks in place to community involvement.

The Center for Open Government, housed at the Chicago Kent law offices,exists to support citizens who seek to exercise the powers of their office. “Citizens need a constant stream of information to provide meaningful attention to the actions of government,” the center believes. The Center offers the legal resources necessary to empower those citizens and stands with them as they exercise the powers of their office.

The Welles Park Bulldog is an on-line publication that provides news for the Ravenswood, North Center, Lincoln Square, Ravenswood Manor, St. Bens, Ravenswood Gardens, Rockwell Crossing and Graceland West communities. It’s mission is to “engage and inform readers about the important issues of the day, while serving the information needs of the community.

“The site will be a place where neighbors can thoughtfully discuss the important issues of the day,” according to its mission statement.

Welles Park Bulldog was formed this month following a partnership decision to terminate the Center Square Ledger, of which Mr. Boylan was editor.