The Chicago school board has approved renewal agreements, mostly for three or four years, with 12 charter networks representing 49 schools.
Chalkbeat Chicago reports that renewals followed months of pleading from charter school leaders, educators, and students. The maximum extension allowed under state law is 10 years.
Each renewal came with a set of conditions, ranging from monitoring services for students with disabilities and students learning English as a new language to improving facilities, financial compliance, and accuracy of teacher licenses.
Those conditions were a result of “issues that were identified during our comprehensive review,” said Zabrina Evans, executive director of the district’s Office of Innovation and Incubation in the Office of Portfolio Management.
The board’s vote to renew all contracts isn’t surprising: State law has barred school closures in Chicago until 2025.
District officials said they evaluate charter schools based on performance in three criteria: academics, finances, and operations. Five-year extensions are awarded to schools that meet or exceed academic and financial standards and receive the highest rating for operations. Extensions beyond five years go to schools that exceed all standards.
Charter school leaders have been asking the board to renew their contracts for the maximum 10 years.
For the most recent charter renewals, no school received five years. Just over half were extended for four years, and just over 40% were extended for three years. The board approved a one-year extension for Instituto Justice and Leadership Academy Charter High School and a two-year extension for Chicago High School for the Arts.