Claypool and the CPS Central Office staff held meetings with selected principals and not all principals. This is not unusual when the District is trying to vet potentially bad news with schools, principals, teachers and parents. They gather the equivalent of a focus group together to test out how they are communicating the bad news, get feedback, get ideas, etc. So if you’re wondering why some principals were given information and some weren’t, that explains why.
It was interesting to hear some of the ideas that Claypool and his staff “floated” with attendee principals, especially his idea of schools needing to “fill the glass.”
Let me explain what I was told that this means.
Claypool is under the assumption/impression that classes are not as full as they could be, nor are schools making the most of every minute in their scheduling and that principals can be taught to “do it better” (especially when it comes to special education students). So his idea of filling the glass is two fold:
- Get those classes full to the brim.
- Make sure every minute is scheduled to the second and that absolutely no time is wasted.
While there might be some cases of class sizes under 28 (for K-3) or 31 (grades 4-12) in this enormous District, on the heels of School Cuts in 2012 and before I look at the data, I’m going to posit that this is relatively rare anymore. So how can we fill a glass that is already full?
My hypothesis is that CPS is going back to their “efficiency” model of 20% ABOVE the maximum class size in order to make the glass bigger. The class sizes that they will be aiming for as an efficient use of space will likely be closer to 33-34 for grades K-3 and 36 for grades 4-12.
This is not confirmed. This has not been said. Or discussed. It is only a hypothesis. And I’m happy to look at the District’s data on actual class sizes this year to see just how empty that portion of the glass is.
The scheduling strategy for “filling the glass” is just as confusing to me. Already students are held to 20 minute lunches, 20 minutes of recess, restricted bathroom breaks, and no wasted time that I am aware of and I follow school scheduling very closely. Are they considering dropping any and all special education pull out services? Dropping any and all teacher prep periods? Keep children in classrooms and make any special classes such as foreign language, art, music, etc. come in on a cart to reduce any movement in the hallways? As always, I find it completely baffling as to how Central Office believes it knows how to run a school better than the principals it hires.
That’s a very quick way to lose talented principals.
Also mentioned was the possibility of sharing art teachers, school counselors, music teachers, foreign language teachers, gym teachers, and other specialists between schools much like we have moved to sharing engineers, nurses, and other professionals and paraprofessionals as of late. Why CPS believes that these professionals are wasting half of their current day and have the bandwidth to move between schools, I am not sure. Again, would love to see their data.
As I mentioned to some colleagues this afternoon, if these budgets drop, I think that Central Office’s best strategy would be to break the glass entirely…and free up principals and LSC’s to manage in the ways that suit them best so that they can make a smaller budget work for them under these grueling financial constraints. Get rid of arbitrary reporting, busy work or anything that doesn’t directly get in front of a student on a daily/weekly basis.
Or get rid of most of the different types of standardized testing that students are required to do for the year. That alone would save millions.