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New Bill Will Increase Transparency In CPS Facility Planning

CHICAGO (STMW) - Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday signed reform legislation to improve school facility planning and increase transparency and accountability in Chicago Public Schools.

The Senate bill requires Chicago Public Schools to create a 10-year master facility plan to chart its future school repair and construction investments with the involvement of educators, parents and community members and lay out decisions on school actions, according to a Quinn release.

The law, which goes into effect immediately, requires CPS to inform the public about proposed changes or school actions by Dec. 1 each year, the release said. CPS must provide advance notice of public hearings to be conducted by independent hearing officers so schools, parents and communities will be more involved in any school change decision process.

Schools impacted by closings, consolidations, boundary changes or co-sharing of a building will get additional resources for a full academic year, the release said.

When significant school changes occur, parents and students will have more choices to attend higher-performing schools and receive support services.

"All of our children deserve a 21st century education in a good school," Quinn said. "I believe the local community should always have a voice in the local decisions that impact them. This law empowers our communities to ensure fair treatment of students in every neighborhood."

CPS will be required to publicly disclose detailed annual facility spending budges, five-year capital plans and annual capital spending reports, the release said. It will also be required to develop and publish new standards for facility use based on school program needs.

"Decisions that impact school facilities impact the entire community, so it is important for our school system to include the input of the school community as much as possible, said Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago). "This new law ensures that educators, families, elected officials, agencies and city government have their voices heard in these critical decisions that impact our children's education.'

The new law also requires the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force to issue yearly status reports on the new law and gather community feedback on its implementation.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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