NEW LEGISLATION Several bills introduced in the state General Assembly would directly impact CPS if they are passed. One bill introduced by Rep. Monique Davis would shut down Chicago Virtual Charter School, an online school that opened this fall and now serves about 180 students. Davis feels that the K-8 school, which includes just one day of formal classes per week, does not allow students to develop interpersonal skills. (The Chicago Teachers Union has filed a lawsuit against the school, which has yet to go to trial.) … A second bill introduced by Rep. Mary Flowers would prevent students displaced from overcrowded neighborhood schools from being assigned to a school on the state’s academic watch list. Due to delays in test scores, the state has not yet released this year’s list.

UNO IN NEW ORLEANS The United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), a grassroots Latino organizing group that operates four Chicago charter schools, will open a charter school next fall in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education solicited proposals from outside groups to run some of the city’s schools as charters. Juan Rangel, UNO’s chief executive officer, says the new opportunity and the city’s increasing Latino population inspired his organization to open the elementary school, which is expected to enroll 250 students.

AT CLARK STREET Hosanna Mahaley-Johnson, the executive officer of the Office of New Schools, is resigning to become the president of a local education fund in Atlanta. … Tyra Newell, former director of the Office of Management and Budget, is now managing director for New Leaders for New Schools in New Orleans. … Steven Washington, a former lawyer at Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, is the new chief of staff for Board President Rufus Williams, replacing Brandi Sandner, who is on maternity leave. … Bryan Samuels, former director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, is the new chief of staff for CEO Arne Duncan. Abigayil Joseph has been promoted from magnet cluster manager to interim officer in the Office of Academic Enhancement, replacing Jack Harnedy, who retired. … Fernando Martinez has moved up from deputy to interim officer in the Office of Language and Cultural Education, replacing Manuel J. Medina, who retired.

PRINCIPAL POLICY Under pressure from the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association, CPS recently adopted a policy that gives underperforming principals extra support and up to a year to improve before facing possible dismissal. Previously, principals judged deficient were issued a warning resolution by the board and placed on a “corrective action plan” that carried the threat of removal. Now, principals will get a chance to improve under the guidance of their area instructional officer. The old policy didn’t help principals to improve and subjected them to the “public humiliation” of a warning resolution, insists Clarice Berry, president of the principals association.

NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION This spring, National-Louis University will become Chicago’s first university to combine an education master’s degree program with preparation for National Board certification. In 2006, a record 171 CPS teachers earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, bringing the district total to 646. The district’s goal is to have 1,200 National Board teachers by next year.

NEW FUND DIRECTORS The Chicago Public Education Fund welcomed two new members to its board of directors: Ellen Costello, CEO of Harris Bankcorp, and Brian Simmons, a founding partner of Code Hennessy & Simmons LLC, a private equity firm. Currently, there are 28 corporate and civic leaders serving as directors.

PRINCIPAL RETIREMENTS Gertrude J. Hill, Harlan High; Mary A. Walsh, Rudolph Learning Center; Patricia Walsh, Earhart; Margaret Lalley, Dawes; Joel Bakrins, Rogers.

PRINCIPAL CONTRACTS New contracts have been awarded to Karen Bryar, Blair; Mary Dixon, Dawes; Christine Jabbari, Rogers; Antoinette LoBosco, Lane Tech High; Richard Morgan, Brownell; Princetta Preston-Scott, Webster; Krish Mohip, Walsh; Eileen O’Toole, Albany Park. The following principals have had their contracts renewed: Kathlene Orr, Grissom; Jerry Travlos, Smyser. … Interim contracts have been awarded to Lionel Allen Jr., Sherman; Deborah Hammond-Watts, Suder Montessori Magnet; Vincent Iturralde, Tarkington; Alan Mather, Lindblom High; Stephanie Moore, Uplift; Cheryl Watkins, Pershing West Magnet.

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