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Bryd-Bennett Unveils Five-Year Plan For Improving Schools

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett discusses her appointment as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, replacing Jean-Claude Brizard. (Credit: CBS)

Barbara Byrd-Bennett discusses her appointment as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, replacing Jean-Claude Brizard. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED: 6/10/2013 1:15 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – With 49 elementary schools set to close next week, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett outlined a five-year plan to make sure the district’s students are prepared for college or a career after finishing high school.

The district said it wants to make sure every student graduates high school with a plan for college, a career, or other post-secondary prospects.

Bryd-Bennett outlined her plan in a speech at 1 p.m. at Westinghouse College Prep High School, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.

“Every child in every community deserves a high-quality education in a safe learning environment with rich and robust investments that will give them all the tools they need to be successful in school and throughout life,” said Byrd-Bennett.

According to CPS, the five-year plan includes five “pillars.” They include:

  • high academic standards;
  • meeting every student’s specific needs;
  • engaged parents and communities;
  • committed school leaders, teachers and staff;
  • and sound fiscal/operation/and accountability systems.

Byrd-Bennett said her biggest emphasis will be on strengthening the relationships with parents and communities. She said additional parent centers will keep parents informed about their child’s performance and new learning opportunities. The district also plans a new mentoring program for students.

“Beginning next year, every employee in our district will be responsible for mentoring one child, one hour for one week,” Byrd-Bennett said.

CPS also planned to implement a new annual district report card to inform the public about how the district is doing in areas such as attendance, graduation rates, college enrollment, and student/parent feedback.

Byrd-Bennett also wants to make sure every student graduates with a post-secondary plan.

“High school graduation is no longer the goal, it is only the starting point,” Byrd-Bennett said. “I faced many of the same challenges that our young people face today, but I know that they can triumph if the adults in their life make it their mission to ensure they achieve their dreams.”

CPS and the Chicago Board of Education have approved plans to close 49 elementary schools at the end of the school year, citing underutilized school buildings and a looming $1 billion budget deficit.

The district has said money saved by closing half-empty school buildings would be used to provide additional resources at the so-called “welcoming schools.”

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