classroom photo

Budget outlines layoffs, cuts to special ed

CPS released its 2015-2016 budget, and began issuing nearly 1,500 pink slips to teachers, support staff and other employees in the district. In addition, teachers say the district has quietly shut down the Montefiore Specialty School despite a five-year moratorium on school closings.

Preschool expansion via ‘social impact’ bonds

A group of investors is betting $17 million that getting more of Chicago’s children into quality early learning programs will generate bigger savings in the long term.

The investors will make a loan to the city so that 2,600 additional children can take part in half-day pre-school programs in the distirct’s much-lauded child-parent centers over the next four years, city officials announced Tuesday.

After closings, questions linger on special ed programs

Severely disabled students in special education cluster programs made up 4 percent of children in closed schools, but they were considered the most vulnerable of the displaced students. Yet advocates say they have not received complaints from parents about the transition, though larger questions about the lack of high-quality options for these students still must be addressed. 

Parents of special needs students plead against closings

Josephine Norwood’s children have undergone multiple school closings and forced transfers in their time at Chicago Public Schools. But when Norwood got wind that her autistic son’s current school was on the final list of schools being considered for closure, it was just too much to take.

The program her son is in has already been moved two times because of school actions. Now, it is at McClellan, a small school in Bridgeport.

Class sizes could increase for special education students

Special education advocates are up in arms about a state proposal to eliminate class size caps for special education rooms and let districts decide what percentage of a “general education” class can be students with disabilities.The rule changes would leave the state without maximum class sizes based on a child’s disability for the first time since 1975.

Special education, preschools at risk in school closings

On the first floor of Brown Elementary School is a room with colorful mats on the walls, a ball pit and calming low-intensity lights. Principal Kenya Sadler proudly shows off this new feature of her school. Sadler raised private money to install it because she thought the specially designed environment would benefit the children in her schools’ two classes for children with autism. Now, Sadler is desperately hoping that the room doesn’t wind up behind shuttered doors, unused.