CHARTER GROUP Leadership for Quality Education, the education arm of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, has merged with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. INCS Executive Director Elizabeth Evans will head the merged group. Pamela Clarke, executive director of LQE, will become deputy director of INCS. Other LQE staff will also join INCS. LQE had long been a strong backer of the charter movement.

MOVING IN/ON Patricia Harvey, former chief accountability officer for CPS who later served as district superintendent in St. Paul, Minn., has been named senior fellow for state initiatives at America’s Choice, a school design program affiliated with the National Center on Education and the Economy.

AT CLARK STREET Katherine Graves is the new director of the Kipp Chicago Youth Village Academy. Sara Abella, the previous director, has resigned.

PRINCIPAL CONTRACTS Interim principals Mable Alfred at Higgins, Vanessa Williams-Johnson at DuBois and Vanessa Young at Howe have been awarded full contracts. … Roslyn J. Armour at Woods Academy, Barbara T. Glapa at Hedges, and Vinita Scott at Burr have had their contracts renewed.

FACILITIES FUNDS Five Chicago charter operators have submitted letters of intent to participate in an Illinois Facilities Fund program designed to help charters purchase and renovate buildings. The program is financed with $8 million in federal funds used as a reserve to back bonds that will be sold to help charters finance the cost of acquiring and renovating buildings. The operators and schools are: Noble Street Network, Chicago Charter School Foundation, Aspira, ACT Charter and Legacy Charter.

LOWER CLASS SIZE The Chicago Teachers Union and the district have reached an agreement to allocate the $2 million set aside from the current contract to reduce class sizes in kindergarten and 1st grade. Eight schools will receive either two additional teachers to open new classrooms, or aides to help out in existing classes. The schools are: Von Humboldt, Bouchet, Lafayette, Beethoven, Doolittle East, Reavis, Woods and Young.

FRESH START Piccolo Elementary has joined seven other schools by voting to join Fresh Start, the district-union partnership that gives struggling schools more autonomy and added resources, and gives teachers more site management authority. The other seven schools are Attucks, Bass, Burke, Chalmers, Hamline, Richards High and Wells High. Up to 10 schools can join the initiative.

DANCING ANYONE? “Having a Ball,” a 10-week ballroom dancing curriculum for 5th-graders, is underway in 18 schools that want to enhance their fine arts and physical education programs. Students will study the history, culture, geography and music connected with the dances they learn. Selected participants will take part in a competition. A similar program in New York City inspired the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom.

AWARDS Delora Washington, math teacher and department chair at Corliss High, has won a $25,000 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award for excellence in teaching, leadership and motivating students. The award is given to up to 100 teachers, principals and educators each year… Five women who are leaders in the Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s public schools programs have won a $100,000 award from the Ford Foundation. Winners are Maria Alviso, Ada Ayala, Leticia Barrera, Joanna Brown and Lissette Moreno-Kuri. (See story in Catalyst April 2003) … Strategic Learning Initiatives, a Chicago-based nonprofit education group, won an award from the National Network of Partnership Schools recognizing its program to teach parents academic concepts and teaching methods so they will be able to help their children succeed in school. (See story in Catalyst April 2005)

$ FOR ATTENDANCE Twelve high school students received $1,000 each for being in class on the first day of school, part a district initiative to team up with local businesses to improve attendance. Awards, funded by WGCI-FM, went to Josef Jackson, Calumet; Brandon Bradford, Chicago Military Academy; James Wiggins, Collins; Tykeyra Windham, Dyett; Dejanee Taylor, Brooks; Ambrozhia Burnett, Julian; Savanna Garth, New Millenium; Shauntonise Bates, Prosser; Brenda Robinson, Clemente; Carl Lemont Hayward Jr., South Shore; Ashley Crowder, Amundsen; Ciera Sanders, Hyde Park

NEW LOCATION The Neighborhood Capital Budget Group has moved. Their new address is: 332 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 500, Chicago, Illinois, 60604. The group’s phone number remains (312) 939-7198. The fax number is (312) 588-0750.

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