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Public Comments to CPS Regarding Proposed Closure of Pope School

Public Comments to CPS Regarding Proposed Closure of Pope School

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Published by valeriefleonard
Lawndale Alliance testimony for public hearing for Pope School April 19, 2013, presented by Valerie F. Leonard.
Lawndale Alliance testimony for public hearing for Pope School April 19, 2013, presented by Valerie F. Leonard.

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06/05/2013

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Public Comments to CPS Regardingthe Proposed Closure of Pope SchoolApril 19, 2013
My name is Valerie Leonard, the Co-Founder of the Lawndale Alliance. We are a groupof residents who have come together to address issues of concern to the community, includingeducation, TIF reform and mortgage foreclosure. We are also members of the Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools. We are here today to provide testimony against the proposed closureof Pope Elementary School and merger into Johnson School of Excellence.The first rationale provided for CPS' decision to close Pope is the fact that enrollment hasdeclined by 39% since 2000 (302 to 184). It should be noted that these data do not account for the variation in enrollment over the years. Generally speaking, the downward trend in enrollmenthas started to reverse itself, and has grown from 142 in 2009 to the current enrollment of 184,representing a 23% rate of growth over the last 4 years, or 5.75% growth per annum. The schoolserves a number of students who are in homeless shelters or other transitional livingarrangements. In many instances Pope Elementary School is a significant source of stability. Touproot the children would be a travesty.The second rationale given for closing the school is the fact that the building is less thanhalf full. It should be noted that the targeted class size for CPS is 30 students per class. Thisformula takes into account a number of arbitrary factors, including the limits outlined in teacher contracts. Pope's average class size is 20 students per class, as compared to 24 students per classfor the District, and 22 students per class for the state.Project STAR, tested a scientifically-controlled experiment undertaken in rural, urban,suburban and inner-city settings found that 1) small classes are academically beneficial, particularly when the class size is reduced below 20 pupils; 2) Small classes are likely to be most beneficial in the early primary grades; and 3) Students from economically disadvantaged homeswere likely to reap the twice the benefits from reducing class sizes than other students.
 
Theseresults were sustained year by year, regardless of the subject matter or locale, even after studentswere returned to regular sized classes.We respectfully request that CPS allow Pope to continue to operate as a small school.The school is well managed, and provides an environment that is conducive to learning. Whilewe are advocating that every North Lawndale school on the closing list remain open, we cannotsay that Johnson School will necessarily provide a better option for Pope students. As of 2012,
 
65.6 % of Pope students met or exceeded state standards in reading, as compared to 62.3% for allAUSL students, and 51.7% for AUSL schools in North Lawndale.
Percent Meeting/Exceeding State Standards in Reading2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012Pope
22.8 20.0 27.3 30.4 34.8 47.1 44.2 54.0 46.0 49.2 56.6 65.6
North Lawndale
25.2 28.6 28.6 34.4 36.4 48.2 48.1 54.7 56.2 58.8 62.9 62.4
AUSL Schools
24.4 30.1 27.8 33.8 30.1 43.5 45.8 50.6 51.3 54.2 61.8 62.3
AUSL Schools-Lawndale
25.5 26.2 23.5 30.3 23.3 33.7 42.7 43.5 38.6 44.0 53.6 51.7
City Wide
38.8 41.5 41.5 46.3 47.7 59.1 60.9 66.7 67.8 68.4 72.7 73.4
Charter/ContractSchools
37.6 42.5 49.0 49.6 62.4 62.3 61.8 68.4 67.9 69.7 72.1 72.9
Similarly, 71.9 % of Pope students met or exceeded state standards in math, as compared to65.8% of students attending AUSL schools in North Lawndale.
 
Percent Meeting/Exceeding State Standards in Math2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012Pope
15.5 11.8 16.9 26.1 25.4 49.7 56.5 64.0 56.1 50.0 62.0 71.9
North Lawndale
21.0 24.4 29.4 36.1 32.8 53.6 57.9 59.1 62.6 66.0 69.8 70.2
AUSL Schools
20.3 25.4 26.7 28.7 22.2 45.1 51.2 51.0 58.0 64.9 75.6 77.8
AUSL Schools-Lawndale
15.6 15.7 27.0 25.4 18.4 35.3 45.5 35.3 40.3 54.0 66.0 65.8
City Wide
34.8 37.7 41.7 46.8 45.7 64.0 68.6 70.5 73.6 76.5 79.4 80.5
Charter/Contract Schools
31.6 45.6 47.4 53.6 66.3 70.3 74.4 73.3 74.5 77.1 79.3 80.6
Pope has experienced 19.6% growth in reading scores over the last three years, compared to6.2% for North Lawndale schools; 13.1% for AUSL schools in North Lawndale and 5.6%citywide. Over the past 11 years, Pope's growth in reading exceeds all averages for the city,charter schools and North Lawndale schools. Pope's 11-year growth in reading was 288%,compared to 247% for all AUSL schools; 247% for all North Lawndale schools; 203% for AUSL schools operating in North Lawndale.
ReadingGrowth % Growth3-Year 5-Year 11-Year 3-Year 5-Year 11-YearPope
19.6 21.4 42.8 43% 48% 288%
North Lawndale
6.2 14.3 37.2 11% 30% 247%
AUSL Schools
10.9 16.4 37.9 21% 36% 256%
AUSL Schools-Lawndale
13.1 9.0 26.2 34% 21% 203%
City Wide
5.6 12.5 34.6 8% 21% 189%
Charter/ContractSchools
4.9 11.0 35.3 7% 18% 194%
 
Pope has experienced 15.8% growth in math scores over the last three years, compared to 7.6%for North Lawndale schools; 25.5% for all AUSL schools in North Lawndale and 6.9% citywide.Over the past 11 years, Pope's growth in reading exceeds all averages for the city, charter schoolsand North Lawndale schools. Pope's 11-year growth in math was 464%, compared to 384% for all AUSL schools; 335% for all North Lawndale schools; 423% for AUSL schools operating in North Lawndale. It should be noted that AUSL focuses on science and math more than reading.
MathGrowth % Growth3-Year 5-Year 11-Year 3-Year 5-Year 11-YearPope
15.8 15.4 56.4 28% 27% 464%
North Lawndale
7.6 12.3 49.2 12% 21% 335%
AUSL Schools
19.8 26.6 57.6 34% 52% 384%
AUSL Schools-Lawndale
25.5 20.3 50.2 63% 45% 423%
City Wide
6.9 11.9 45.7 9% 17% 231%
Charter/ContractSchools
6.1 6.2 49.0 8% 8% 255%
A third reason CPS provides for closing Pope is the fact that the building requires $9.2million to maintain and update. It should be noted that the Excel spreadsheet provided by theUtilization Commission indicates that the cost of maintenance is $11.5 million, while the officialcapital plan for the school reveals an assessment of $2.791 million dollars. Only 2 capital projects have been completed, the last of which was done in 2004. There are no ongoing capitalimprovements for Pope School.The final reason given for closing Pope School is "the Building lacks a science lab". Itshould be noted that Pope does in fact, have a science lab on the third floor.CPS has provided space utilization standards to
... help to ensure that all students haveequal access to a learning environment that effectively supports strong instructional  programs...Rather than narrowly prescribe the manner of classroom use, the standards weredeveloped to promote flexibility and to ensure that the space can be programmed to fit student needs.
Furthermore, the utilization formula provides that 24% of a school's classrooms bededicated to ancillary classroom space, with 76% of the space being allocated to classrooms.Pope currently uses the space in a manner prescribed by CPS. There are 24 classrooms,including 18 homerooms and 6 ancillary classrooms. The first floor is fully utilized, andincludes Head Start, Kindergarten, a room for art, a lunchroom and 1 and 2nd gradeclassrooms. The second floor has classrooms for 3rd -8th graders a counseling room, a specialeducation room, computer lab, the nurse's office, storage space and the assistant principal'soffice. The 3rd floor has a science lab and a game room for recreation, time out, good behavior and to relieve stress. Three classrooms are dedicated to JPA counseling. America Scoresoperates after school programming that integrates leadership, reading and soccer, and utilizes 2classrooms. There is also a special education classroom and gymnasium.

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Check out my public comments in support of Pope School.
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