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Local School Councils hurting for candidates ahead of spring elections

Chicago Sun-Times Education This Week
Education This Week is our weekly recap of the biggest news in education affecting the Chicago area, Illinois, the region and the nation. Today’s edition was written by Nader Issa, the Sun-Times’ education beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter here.

Good morning!
Chicago’s Local School Councils are usually a quick way to get involved with decision-making in your community. They have the power to hire and retain principals, oversee school budgets and more recently decide whether Chicago police officers will be in the halls.
But as has been the case in recent years, Chicago Public Schools are hurting for candidates ahead of this Friday’s application deadline. As of the end of last week, the district was still looking for more than 5,500 candidates across 509 schools. Only 722 people had submitted applications for 6,239 LSC positions.
Interest has generally waned since Springfield created LSCs about 30 years ago, when candidate slates would be filled and voter turnout was massive. CPS acknowledged last week that history points to most applications coming in the last few days before the deadline, but officials are still making a push to attract more.
CPS spokeswoman Mary Fergus noted “many local city leaders began their civic engagement as LSC members.
“This voluntary role offers an individual the opportunity to learn more about how school-based instructional and operational decisions are made and be part of the efforts to improve the teaching and learning climate and culture at a school and our district.”
More information about candidacy, voting and serving as an election judge can be found on the district’s LSC website: cps.edu/LSC. That’s also where applications can be downloaded; paperwork can also be picked up at a school or the LSC relations office at 2651 W. Washington Blvd.
A map at schoolinfo.cps.edu/map-lscelection shows which schools have openings for positions (spoiler alert, it’s almost all of them). Voting takes place April 20 for elementary schools and April 21 for high schools.
In the meantime, check out our latest stories below, plus an answer to a reader question about CPS’ transportation services.
Until next week,
Nader Issa, Sun-Times education reporter
Answering your questions
How many students experiencing homelessness are eligible to receive transportation but have not yet to date been routed?
If you missed the latest update in CPS’ ongoing transportation saga (a nationwide problem, given driver shortages), district officials said at last week’s Board of Education meeting that they had provided transportation to all 715 special education students who as of the previous month hadn’t yet received their legally mandated services. But a board member made clear there were still kids (those without permanent housing, others economically disadvantaged) who still needed to be served, and that CPS hadn’t forgotten about them — and that’s where this question comes into play.
I asked CPS for a fuller picture last week. A spokeswoman said the 715 special education students were provided transportation “without taking away transportation services from other students.” Removing general ed kids from their routes to prioritize special ed and homeless children had been a consideration and likely will be the district’s policy next year.
But the spokeswoman also said another 427 new requests for transport came in from special ed families between the January and February board meetings, and as of last Wednesday 170 had been assigned routes while “we continue to work to address the transportation needs of the remaining requests.” As for students experiencing homelessness, 17 were still without routes as of last week, the spokeswoman said. About 1,000 general education students are waiting for transportation.
Got a question you’d like me to look into? Respond to this email or send an email to audience@suntimes.com and your question may be answered in an upcoming newsletter!
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Nader Issa

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