While that may seem unremarkable, only 62 of the system’s some 600 principals have such authority. Under a pilot program, the 62 principals can spend School Board funds directly—either by writing a check or using a CPS credit card—on equipment and supplies from board- approved vendors. They also can reimburse staff for minor expenses, such as supplies, without submitting paperwork to the region office.
According to research by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, the system’s 8th-grade “brain drain” has been steadily declining since 1995, when the school system achieved stability under new rules set by the Legislature and new leadership appointed by the mayor. In 1995, the percentage of high scoring 8th-graders who left for private or parochial high schools was 27; by 1998, when several college prep high schools were underway, it had dropped to 19; the next year, it dropped to 17.
Here’s how that convoluted equation works: The pension fund for Chicago teachers already is fully funded, meaning its $8.6 billion in assets are sufficient to cover pension costs for 16,000 retired teachers and 35,000 still on the job, according to the funds fiscal 1999 annual report. If Chicago got more pension money, the board says, it could use it to back the sale of more construction bonds.
Other remedial programs, such as Early Intervention for 1st- and 2nd-graders, account for another 20,000 students. Another 15,000 are enrolled in academic enrichment programs, such as elementary school geometry and high school journalism. The rest are in bilingual programs, special education classes or CPS-run summer camps.
The CPS starting salary ranks fifth among the 117 districts serving elementary students. The top CPS salary ranks 55th and is more than $2,000 above the average, a Catalyst analysis found. There are some 9,500 teaching positions in the districts with higher top pay, which is only about half the total number of elementary teachers in Chicago.
This fall, KIPP, which stands for Knowledge is Power Program, expands to Chicago, and some educators believe the model—which aims to get all students to college—is the answer for boosting student achievement in some of the city’s under-performing schools.
It’s graduation day for this year’s crop of leaders-in-training and KIPP co-founder Michael Feinberg is wearing a special outfit: brown cut-off shorts, a dark blue T-shirt with a torn white T-shirt poking out below the waist, and bare feet.
The Gates Foundation made a five-year, $15.7 million grant to underwrite 10 new small schools and to support efforts to divide Oakland’s six high schools into small, autonomous schools, some of which would be spun off into separate facilities throughout the city.