Hydrant near Spry

What’s Up in CPS This Week? School’s Out

Children enjoying the Chicago open fire hydrant tradition near Spry Elementary in Little Village.

While the school year is drawing to a close for many students–tomorrow is the last day for students in most district-run schools–the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board recently predicted a long, hot summer for CPS as it overhauls its handling of sexual abuse allegations.

If you volunteer in a CPS school, you might want to get a place in line now to have your background check redone before the new school year. About 23,000 teachers, vendors and parent volunteers will need to have their fingerprints retaken.

While CPS leadership has promised a public awareness campaign to encourage more reporting of suspected abuse, an important additional step could be to comply with Erin’s Law and provide sexual abuse prevention education to all students.

The balancing act: school construction vs. repair

Last week, CPS began spreading the word about its current plans for new construction and school repair. As Chalkbeat Chicago reported, community leaders had plenty to say. Meanwhile, a WBEZ analysis of spending since 2011 found that more than half of the $3.4 billion capital money for schools went to new construction, while the district’s longstanding problems with deferred maintenance continued to pile up.

If you have comments on the facilities plan, a facility issue at your school that needs to be addressed, or other ideas related to construction and repair in CPS, you can email them here: [email protected].

Sometimes, the best thing to do with a building is just start from scratch. That’s what’s happening to Hancock High School on the Southwest Side. Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Hancock will be getting a new building. It’s a step toward citywide equity in facilities quality and availability for selective enrollment high schools.

Chicago now has 11 selective-enrollment high schools; six north of Roosevelt Road and five south. On the north side, Northside College Prep and Walter Payton College Prep were built from scratch. In 2013, Jones College Prep completed a $100 million expansion of its existing building, the same year that the new South Shore College Prep building opened its doors. Hancock will be the second South Side selective-enrollment high school to have a brand-new facility.

Watch for More Student Actions against Gun Violence This Summer

By now you’ve probably heard all about Friday night’s Peace March and rally at St. Sabina Church, featuring student leaders like Alex King as well as stars like Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson.

But you may not have heard about the next steps. During Friday’s rally, St Sabina pastor Fr. Michael Pfleger called for a thousand volunteers to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway on July 7 to raise awareness of the need to end gun violence. Also in July, Brighton Park youth will be leading a hunger strike, and Diego Garcia, 16, will be among them.

Nettelhorst, CTU Show Their Pride This Sunday

Chicago boasts one of the nation’s largest Pride parades, and it will kick off this Sunday at noon. As has become tradition, contingents from CTU and Nettelhorst Elementary will be among the marchers. Are there more Chicago school related floats and marchers we don’t know about? If your school will be represented, send us photos!

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Maureen Kelleher

Chicago Unheard blog manager Maureen Kelleher also serves as a senior writer and editor at brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and brighter future for every child. Before joining the brightbeam team, she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of a middle-schooler. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

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