Fifteen members of the Senn High School Strategic Planning Committee, including students and school staff members, met with Alderwoman Mary Ann Smith last week. They talked for over an hour and a half, but Smith refused to endorse either Senn’s Plan or process, which are both impressive. To date, the Committee has surveyed, focus grouped, interviewed, brainstormed, been “expert” advised and more, to come up with a Plan that can keep Senn as a single school serving the needs of all its students. Smith, on the other hand, is promoting her own “plan” for the school, created by…who knows? All that’s clear is that Smith wants to close Senn and open in its place four small schools in the building, three with selective admission policies, meaning they won’t accept all kids in Senn’s attendance boundaries, within which 70% of its students currently live, and one voc tech school. Senn’s plan calls for keeping the school united and open to all students, with programs to serve the different needs in the building.
Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, has said that Senn will take in a freshman class in Fall 2008. That’s good news, but the work to keep Senn open isn’t over.
The next Strategic planning Committee Meeting will take place on Feb. 9 at Senn, in Room 115, 9:00 AM. Everyone is invited to show up and be part of the important community work of improving public education. You’ll meet parents, students, teachers, local residents and a host of others who care about what happens in our local schools. It’s good work. Please do it.