Local School Councils by the Numbers

A quantitative look at last month’s Local School Council voting data

On April 7 and 8—report card pick-up days—public schools in Chicago held their biannual elections for local school councils, or LSCs. These councils hold real power: they approve the school’s budget, develop the annual School Improvement Plan, and approve the selection and retention of the principal. So how many community residents came out to vote for these council members? 

To find out, we crunched the numbers on two datasets provided by CPS: one that listed the number of votes that every candidate got, and one that listed the number of voters at every school. These are the most important numbers coming out of the election results, released at the end of April. 

Note that not every school has provided the number of voters or the final vote tally to CPS yet, so both datasets were missing some schools. The dataset with votes-per-candidate listed 497 schools—474 with traditional LSCs, and thirty-two with appointed councils. The other dataset listed 479 schools. Basically, take these reported numbers with a grain of salt. 

Traditional local school councils consist of six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member, and, for high schools, one student representative. Community residents and parents can vote for the parent and community reps (they can cast their ballot for up to five candidates total), while teachers and staff vote for their respective reps, and high-schoolers select the student representative. 

Only the parents and community residents get a definitive say on who their representatives are—the Board of Education appoints the other positions, so the elections for the teacher and staff positions are just non-binding advisory polls.  

Some schools, including military academies and some run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), have local school councils that are entirely appointed by the board (the military academies have a board of governors). For these schools, the election results are completely non-binding, and in seven AUSL Teaching Academies, there wasn’t even a poll—the principal recommends every candidate.

181,341 | Total number of votes tallied so far for all candidates in every school.

46,284 | Number of voters who were parents or community residents.

14,572 | Number of voters who were teaching staff (teachers can vote only in their own school).

96.6 | Average number of parent and community members who voted per school.

32% | Proportion of schools with fewer than six candidates for the parent representative (schools with no candidates are not counted). For schools that have enough candidates for a quorum, the council will vote to fill the empty seats; for other schools, there will be another election in May.

15% | Proportion of schools with only one candidate for community representative (schools with no candidates were not counted).

Schools with the most parent or community voters: 

Sutherland (907)
Lakeview High School (863)
Morgan Park High School (663)
Gary (642)
Lane High School (572)
Taft High School (531)
King High School (529)
South Shore International High School (516)
Castellanos (513)
Kellogg (444)

Schools with the most candidates (all positions):  

Farragut High School (34)
Skinner North (28)
South Shore International High School (26)
George Westinghouse High School (26)
Juarez High School (26)
Beasley (25)
Stem Elementary School (24)
Von Steuben High School (24)
Belmont-Cragin (23)
Roosevelt High School (23)

6 out of 10 | Proportion of schools in the above list that are selective-enrollment / gifted / magnet schools (Skinner, South Shore, Westinghouse, Beasley, STEM, and Von Steuben)

27 | Number of schools where post-election challenges have been filed. The final results will be decided by May 30.

Special thanks to Melissa Sanchez of Catalyst, who obtained the election results from CPS through a Freedom of Information Act request and kindly shared that data with the South Side Weekly, and to the Office of Local School Council Relations, which provided the data on the number of voters.

Correction: A previous version of the article stated that 70% of the schools with the most voter turn-out were on the South Side. 60% of the schools listed above are on the South Side (Sutherland, Morgan Park, Gary, King, South Shore, Castellanos, and Kellogg).

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