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CPS Extends Local School Council Election Deadline, Hoping To Draw At Least 5,000 More Applicants

Candidates now have until Wednesday to apply and run for a seat in April's local school council elections.

Tina Holder King, chair and a parent representative of Harriet Tubman Elementary's Local School Council.
Jake Wittich/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicagoans have until next week to apply as a candidate in this year’s local school council elections, as fewer than 1,300 people have applied for a chance at more than 6,200 seats across Chicago Public Schools.

Local school councils are the governing bodies of public schools. They have voting power over the school’s budget; hiring, firing and evaluation of principals; and the school’s academic plan.

Applications to run in the 2022 council elections are available through the CPS website. Candidates must bring their applications and two forms of identification to the school where they’re running by 3 p.m. Wednesday.

CPS officials extended the application period because only 1,269 candidate applications had been submitted for 6,239 available positions as of Wednesday, two days before the initial deadline.

“Serving on a local school council in Chicago remains one of the most important ways that residents can make an impact in their community,” Bogdana Chkoumbova, the district’s chief education officer, said in a statement Wednesday. “We appreciate all those who roll up their sleeves and work alongside educators and neighbors to improve and strengthen our CPS schools.”

The 2022 elections will be held April 20 for elementary schools and April 21 for high schools. Polls are open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. each day.

Traditional local school councils include the school’s principal, six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member and one to three students.

Some schools with a “specialized” student population or educational focus have appointed local school councils, said Marcus Pittman, a senior council facilitator for the district. Military schools have an appointed board of governors.

There are “several significant changes” in place for the elections, Pittman said at the January meeting of the Hyde Park-Kenwood community action council.

Voting will be done entirely in person this year. The district used a mail-in system for the 2020 election that some voters said was confusing and poorly managed, according to Chalkbeat.

Schools will use gyms and other “multi-purpose areas where people can easily social distance” for this year’s elections, Pittman said.

All high school councils will have three student representatives. Elementary school councils will seat a student representative for the first time, as students in sixth grade or older may run.

Students will be elected through a poll of the school’s student body, to be held April 18 or 19, according to the district.

The councils are “a great opportunity to vocalize the needs of our peers,” said Rem Johannknecht, a senior student representative on Walter Payton College Prep’s local school council. “As elected representatives of our student body, we have been able to advocate for them inside and outside of their classrooms.” 

Other rules remain in place from previous elections. Parent and community representatives cannot be CPS employees. Community reps must be 17 or older and live in the school’s attendance area or voting district.

Residents 18 or older may serve as local school council election judges, who verify voters’ eligibility, issue ballots, tally votes and present election results to the school.

Election judges must attend a two-hour training, which is expected to be held in person, according to the district. Judges are not able to vote, as they may not leave their post during the election, Pittman said.

Candidates may serve as judges, and they will be assigned to a different school than the one in which they’re running for a council seat.

Judges are paid $250 per day served and may work both election days. Food is provided.

Election judge applications are available through the district’s website and are due March 8.

Applications may be turned in to any school that is hosting a local school council election, or to the Office of Local School Council Relations on the third floor of the district’s Garfield Park office, 2651 W. Washington Blvd. They may also be submitted by email to LSCJudge@cps.edu.

For more information on running for a local school council seat or serving as an election judge, contact the Office of Local School Council Relations at 773-553-1400.

Local school council elections are typically held every two years in the spring, though the 2020 election was delayed until November of that year due to the pandemic.

More than 1,000 seats went unfilled after the 2020 election, and voter turnout for that election dropped 43 percent from 2018.

In 2020, “I had several schools that candidates were barely getting elected to the LSC with one vote that came in,” Pittman said. “Hopefully, with things returning to in-person, I can say that will be a benefit of [the 2022] election. The voter turnout, hopefully, will increase.”

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