By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Hyde Park families have another school choice this fall. The Chicago Free School is still on schedule to open Sept. 2.
Free schools are private, have no principal and everything is decided by community consensus. Everyone in the school from the oldest teacher to the youngest student has a vote. The Chicago Free School will be located in Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.
So far more than 50 families have enrolled their children into the school, said Lauren Beitler, founder of the Chicago Free School, which is close to her goal of 60 families. The school also exceeded its fundraising goal of $18,670 by raising $32,500 through crowd source funding in March and is planning its next campaign in the fall.
There are currently four full time teachers – with Beitler there are five teachers in total – plus an after-school coordinator and volunteers from the University of Chicago’s Neighborhood Schools program.
Beitler, parents and 10-member board chose teachers for the school based on interviews and observing them demonstrate a lesson with students registered for the school.
The 10-member board currently has two teachers and eight parents. Beitler said the school is looking for more community members to join the board.
As of right now the school is working with Augustana Church to determine what structural adjustments need to be made for the school. Beitler said the courses the school will offer are also yet to be determined.
“This is always going to be a work in progress,” Beitler said. “Always based on what students are interested in.”
Beitler said the school is not going to plan every detail but listen to what the kids want and follow their lead. She said the students who are currently enrolled were surveyed and mentioned they’d be interested in science, languages, square roots and arts.
Beitler said there are a few more spaces available in the 3-5 grade and 6-8 grade classes.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit chicagofreeschool.org for more information.