By SAMANTHA SMYLIE
Chicago Public Schools Headquarters — During the first Chicago Board of Education meeting of the 2019-2020 school year, board President Miguel del Valle revealed a series of initiatives to increase transparency and public participation at board meetings in the future.
On Wednesday morning, June 26, the first board meeting was filled to capacity with educators, education advocates and Chicagoans from throughout the city to witness the first board meeting with members selected by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who were announced on June 3.
In the past, school advocates have charged the Chicago Board of Education with being obscure about decisions they make regarding schools, especially those with predominately Black and Latino students on the city’s South and West sides. As a result, education advocates have fought for a bill, HB 2267, at the state level that would move away from a Mayor-appointed board to an elected school board. The bill died in the Senate in May.
Aware of Chicagoans’ pushback to the board’s past actions, del Valle presented seven initiatives to increase transparency and public engagement in hopes that it will build trust between the board and the public.
“On our first day serving the students, families and educators of Chicago, we have immediately instituted a series of initiatives that will provide for more inclusive and open meetings and will help make our school system even stronger for families in all neighborhoods throughout Chicago,” said del Valle.
The seven initiatives include:
- Board members will discuss select priority items from the public agenda prior to public participation.
- A revised voting process that requires the board to vote during the public participation section of the meeting and before the executive session.
- Starting next month, the board will live stream meetings.
- Continue live translation of all meetings for Spanish language speakers.
- Post policy changes one month prior to a board vote.
- Create additional committees to focus on critical education policy.
- Beginning later this year, the board will host meetings in communities outside the loop with times in the afternoon.
“We will attempt to strike a balance between deeper engagement and efficiency. We believe that these changes will lead to a more transparent process, we will continue to fine-tune this process with the goal to continue to increase transparency and accessibility,’ said del Valle.