Lines of Authority in a Radically New District

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Many roles are to change in the legislative blueprint for reforming the Chicago Public Schools that is now awaiting the signature of Gov. James M. Thompson. For example:

The Mayor will lose his unilateral power to appoint new school-board members. He will be required to choose from among candidates screened by a new 25-member School Board Nominating Commission.

But he will also appoint four of seven members of a new oversight body that will have the power to reject contracts and fire school-board employees who impede implementation of the reforms.

The Board of Education will be dissolved and replaced by a seven-member interim board. A new board, expanded from 11 to 15 members, will be appointed by the mayor after the nominating commission has assembled a slate of candidates.

The board will be stripped of much of its direct authority over schools, and will serve instead as a standard-setting and oversight body.

The Central Administration's budget will be cut by an estimated $46 million and it will thereafter operate under a strict spending ceiling. Resources and some traditional functions, such as curriculum development, will be transferred to the local school level. A new national search for a general superintendent is also mandated.

Principals will lose lifetime tenure. They will be hired instead by local school councils on three-year performance contracts.

They will gain the right to fill teaching and support-staff vacancies without regard to the candidates' seniority and will have the authority to issue "reasonable'' orders to custodians and cafeteria workers. They will sit on, but cannot be the chairmen of, the new "local school councils.''

Teachers will form advisory councils at each school and have two seats on the local school councils. The advisory councils will help to set each school's curriculum and develop school-improvement plans. The minimum period for attempts at teacher remediation before dismissal will be shortened from one year to 45 days.

Parents will have 6 of the 11 seats on the new local school councils. The councils will develop school-improvement plans and hire principals to implement them.

Beginning in the 1990-91 school year, the councils will receive their school's budget allocation in a lump sum and will be responsible for developing its budget, subject only to state and federal laws and applicable collective-bargaining agreements. Each council will also elect one member to one of 20 subdistrict councils whose primary duty will be to monitor implementation of school-improvement plans.

Community members will hold two seats on each local school council.

Vol. 07, Issue 39 Extra Edition

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