Redo the SLS working group
05/19/2010 10:00 PM
Editorís note: Dennis Beninato, an outgoing member of the South Loop School local school council, and Printers Row resident Enrique Perez sent this letter concerning how a committee examining space issues at South Loop School was formed to Chicago Public Schools administrator Jose Alvarez on April 30.
Dear Mr. Alvarez:
We are writing to protest the manner in which the South Loop Working Committee members were chosen. We do not believe it was a fair or transparent process, nor did it follow the guidelines you set out in advance.
As you stated both public at the April 5 meeting that you held at South Loop School to discuss the overcrowding there, as well as in comments that you made privately in the days leading to this meeting, you had clearly said that the individuals who submit their names for consideration to serve on the Working Committee in the various categories (e.g. parent, community, LSC, Growth Management Committee, etc.) would have a chance to decide among themselves who would serve on this committee if more people submitted their names for consideration than there was room for. If this self-selection process did not yield an agreement, then you clearly said that a lottery would be held. The winners of the lottery would then serve on the committee.
As far as we can discern, no meeting or discussion among the self-nominees was ever held, no lottery was every held, and for that matter, no announcement of who submitted their names for consideration was ever made. All that we received was a late night email from Principal Tara Shelton stating that the Working Committee members had been chosen and listing who they were. No reference whatsoever was made in her email to the process that you outlined.
You had also said that there would be two representatives from the LSC and separately that there would be two representatives from the LSCís Growth Management Committee, which had been previously formed to look into the overcrowding problem at South Loop School; this before CPS decided to form the Working Committee to do the same thing. From the list that was emailed out, only one representative from each of these two groups was selected.
The process of selecting the Working Committee members was not transparent at all. On the contrary, the process was just the opposite of what you said it would be.
We believe this does not bode well for the work of the Working Committee because it makes the committee itself appear to be non-object. It also cast the pall of favoritism on the Working Committee members who were chosen.
We are also concerned about the fact that the Working Committee only has one elected official who is represented, this despite the fact that the attendance boundary of South Loop School crosses into the jurisdictions of multiple elected officials, and hence will affect many of their constituents as well.
As such, we hereby respectfully request that the selection process for the individual South Loop Working Committee members be redone as per your original representations: that the individuals who had submitted their names for consideration in the various categories be allowed to meet and decide among themselves who will serve on the Working Committee; if they are not able to reach an agreement, that you conduct a lottery with all of these individuals present to determine who will serve on the Working Committee; and that two representatives from the LSC and separately that two representatives from the Growth Management Committee be allowed to serve on the Working Committee.
Considering that an untold number of children, parents and community members will potentially be greatly affected by the work of the South Loop Working Committee, we believe that the selection process must remain transparent, beyond question, and open to all stakeholders.