The deadline for signing up to run for a position with the Local School Council has been extended from March 12 to March 24.
This is in large part because there are too few applicants for the 6,000 LSC positions this year. Each elementary school needs six LSC members, while high schools need seven.
In fact, according to the Web site for Parents United for Responsible Education, 57 schools are in jeopardy of having no LSC candidates. These include Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams, which as of March 17 was still looking for its first candidate.
“It’s unfortunate. If these schools have no LSC, they have no advocate at the school that can really look out for their interests,” said Julie Woestehoff, PURE executive director. “CPS is just not doing enough to let parents know about the election.”
Woestehoff says the dismantling of LSC because of school closings and the lack of timely information from CPS reminding parents about the election are two reasons for the slump.
“In the wake of the various school closings in the last few years, about 50 LSCs have been discontinued. And since most Renaissance 2010 schools are charter schools, they don’t have LSCs. So parents have to go to a school farther away and serve on that council, which may not be possible for them geographically,” she said.
And the CPS poster notifying the community about the LSC election falls short, Woestehoff said. The poster shows children extending their arms in a sign of collective support. Below them, it reads:
“Run for your Chicago Public Schools Local School Council” and then gives dates for the high school election (April 16) and the elementary school election (April 17).
“Where is the date that tells the parents how long they have to sign up?” said Woestehoff. “Wouldn’t that be important to know if the purpose of this poster is to inspire parents to get involved?”
The main page on the CPS Web site (http://www.cps.k12.il.us/) shows no mention of the deadline extension nor the upcoming election.
Since 1989-when, during a much-advertised roundup, LSC candidates numbered about 12,000-CPS has found it increasingly difficult to recruit parents and community residents to serve on the council.
This year, the tally is expected to be close to 7,000, which is a decent figure and one that represents the average number of applicants in the last five years but still not enough, according Wanda Hopkins, assistant director of PURE. “We can’t have a truly competitive race if we barely exceed our quota,” said Hopkins. She said another reason for the lack of candidates is the amount of scrutiny LSC members take when making an unpopular decision in the interest of a school.
CPS is hoping to receive more than 8,000 LSC applications.