Public hearing on Chicago school board district boundaries set for April 12 at Copernicus Center in Jefferson Park
by BRIAN NADIG
A public hearing on what the boundaries should be for the 20 elected school board districts in Chicago will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave.
This will be the third of five hearings the Senate Special Committee on the Chicago Elected Representative School Board is holding. There also will be hearings from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., and and a Zoom virtual hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 17. Public testimony, including suggestions for the boundaries, will be taken at the hearings.
The boundaries must be consistent with the Voting Rights Act, and each of the 20 districts will be equivalent to the size of about 2 1/2 aldermanic wards. Currently Chicago has the only appointed school board in Illinois.
The first school board elections, which will be non-partisan, will be held in November of 2024, when one representative will be elected to a four-year term from 10 of the 20 districts. The mayor will appoint the members for the other 10 districts along with the board president, but those terms will be for only two years, with an election for four-year terms being held in 2026. The board president will be an at-large position voted on citywide.
State Senator Rob Martwick (D-10), who is vice chair of the special committee, said that the elected school board will give voters greater input and control of those individuals responsible for setting policies and the budget for the Chicago Public Schools. Currently the mayor appoints the board.
School boards typically have seven members, but having a 21-member board in Chicago, with 20 districts, should reduce the impact of well-funded political action committees, said Martwick, the main sponsor of the school board legislation.
ing that volunteer-based, grassroots campaigns can be successful. “I wanted to limit the influence of outside money on these elections.”
Campaign money would likely play a larger role in the elections if there were fewer districts or only at-large seats on the board, as it’s near impossible for a candidate to go door knocking throughout the entire city, Martwick said.
The ultimate goal is to have a school board that “reflects the diversity of Chicago” and can address the wide variety of challenges and issues facing Chicago schools, Martwick said.
“The educational challenges of Edison Park are not the same as Morgan Park,” Martwick said. “We are a city of neighborhoods.”
Public input on the district boundaries can be submitted to https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/0479d31347eb426c90e5694b55d0bb59
The survey includes access to a map-making tool that can be used in creating district maps for consideration by the committee.
For more information, contact the committee via e-mail: ChicagoERSBCommittee@senatedem.ilga.gov