Amundsen LSC to Start Principal Selection

April 5, 2012

The Amundsen Local School Council will proceed with seeking a replacement to retiring Principal Carlos Muñoz The Bulldog has learned.

Bill Helm, a member of the Amundsen LSC, told The Bulldog the LSC couldn’t wait for July to start the process as that would leave the school without a leader for the 2012-3 school year.

A new LSC will be elected later in April, but its members are not installed until the July LSC meeting.

The next Amundsen LSC meeting is planned for Tues., April 10 at 6P.

The school is being targeted by Grow47, along with Lake View, for improvement, according to sources in Ald. Ameya Pawar’s office familiar with the situation. The principal selection process will be closely watched as a successful Amundsen would have a big impact on significant areas in the 47th Ward.

The Challenges at Amundsen

The Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, required 85 percent of Amundsen students to meet or exceed reading and math standards in 2010-11. Amundsen reported 25.6 percent of students met reading standards, 21 percent met math standards, in 2010-11.

The poor showing has led to the school being on probation for two years. CPS lists the school as a Level 3 school, a category for the lowest performing schools.

An independent study by the University of Chicago noted that the Amundsen did not have a strong foundation in any of the five areas identified by the university as necessary for school improvement. The study pointed to  school leadership as a particular problem.

Teachers responding to the UofC study pointed to a lack of strong leadership by the principal, scoring the leadership team at Amundsen with just 18 of 100 points. Teachers also said there was a low level of trust and respect between teachers and the principal, scoring that at just 23 out of 100 points.

The consortium noted that similar schools had leadership scores of 43 and the average CPS score was 50. Amundsen scored just 27 points.

The CPS uses the UofC material to report on leadership effectiveness to parents.

In addition to issues of leadership, students surveyed by the UofC said they were not challenged in six areas of math instruction.

Finally Principal Carlos Muñoz’ leadership itself has been questioned. Muñoz received an unusual Warning Resolution for unsatisfactory conduct from the Chicago Board of Education in 2008.

Reactions of Leadership to Challenges

Amundsen’s leadership team has been challenged in part by drawing a student population that is largely low-income. Amundsen reports 80.8 percent of its student population as being low-income. “Low-income students come from families receiving public aid; live in institutions for neglected or delinquent children; are supported in foster homes with public funds; or are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches.”

Amundsen students have also experienced violence, with two students being murdered near their home last year. Overall students said their personal safety was very strong while in transit to Amundsen, but expressed concern about hallway and bathroom use at the school.

On the bright side Amundsen has instituted an International Baccalaureate program. Although the IB program at Amundsen is currently only enrolling 24 percent of the students. Unlike many similar IB programs at CPS, Amundsen does not require all freshmen to join the IB program.

IB programs have been successful in raising student achievement, graduation and college success while reducing drop out rates.

The Bulldog has also identified school spirit at Amundsen as being high, with students attending and supporting the school’s sports teams.

Performance- Some Bright Spots in Gloom

The CPS Performance Policy Report has some good news and some disappointing news.

On the bright side, the one-year drop out rate at Amundsen has declined to 6.5 percent from 10.2 percent. And the attendance rate has improved marginally to 81.5 percent from 76.2 percent.

Encouraging as these signs are, CPS only rates them as worth 3 of 6 points for improved drop out rate and 1 of 6 points for the attendance rate.

Amundsen received no points for test results in reading or math and just a third of a point for science results.

Just 16 percent of students were eligible to attend a selective four-year college and just64.6 percent of Amundsen students graduate in five years.

The Selection Process

Catalyst reports Clarice Berry, President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Assoc., as saying 2012 could be a watershed year for retirements. Because of that the pool of potential candidates to fill the Muñoz vacancy is expected to be very small.

Principals are reacting to proposed rules that would limit the number of unused sick and vacation days the principals banked during their employment at CPS according to Catalyst.

CPS has a list of principal candidates in what is known as the Principal Pool. Catalyst reported in March there were 485 candidates in the CPS Principals pool, but noted that more than 250 were sitting principals. Catalyst reported that as of early March 150 principals had announced they were retiring.

In reaction to this, in March CPS proposed offering a bonus of up to $25,000 for up to 50 out of town candidates.

Even reacting in April, Amundsen may be late to the party.

Amundsen will need to advertise the opening, a move that requires approval by the LSC. The opening is then placed one time in a non-searchable pdf issued weekly by CPS.

In addition, the LSC can use its funds to advertise in a national publication or website.

LSCs often close the application process within a month, a study of The Bulletin indicates. Given the need for the LSC to review applications, the process is going to drag into May before the LSC can consider offering any candidates a contract.

That is being optimistic. The process may be completed by the time the new council is installed in July. But it is likely that internal candidates will need to answer for issues outlined by the Consortium and test results. External candidates or out of town candidates will need time to meet LSC members. Given all the facts, the selection should be on the minds of parents and community voters taking part in the Amundsen LSC election.

The date of the Amundsen election is Thurs., April 19, 6A-7P.


Read the Illinois School Report Card for Amundsen

Read the CPS Performance Policy Report for Amundsen

Read the School Progress Report for Amundsen  en español w języku polskim in Chinese

The No Child Left Behind (AYP) Report

Explore the Chicago Consortium/ University of Chicago/ Urban Education Institute report on Amundsen

Read the Warning Resolution regarding Principal Carlos Muñoz from the Chicago Board of Education

Read the possibly related report of the CPS Inspector General (pages 6-7)

Go to the Amundsen High School Web Site

View the High School North Attendance Area Map

Read the Illinois Code pertaining to LSCs hiring principals

Read the CPS Guide: Local School Council Reference Guide 2010-12 for more details on the principal selection process

Read Designs for Change report on LSCs and principal selection

Read PURE Parents report on LSCs and principal selection

Read the CPS eligibility requirements for principals policy

Read Catalyst report on the $25K signing bonus for principals being offered by the city

Read the CPS eBulletin/ Personnel Bulletin

Go to the FaceBook page for Amundsen High School

Candidates statements

William Helm (community)

Mike Cohen (community)

Jeff Newman (community)

Brendan O’Connor (community)

NEW*** Notice of special LSC meeting on Tues, Apr 17 @ 6P to consider principal selection ***

Review the Amundsen LSC records on The Bulldog’s Document Cloud

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One Response to Amundsen LSC to Start Principal Selection

  1. Jeff Newman on April 12, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    It’s clear that there is an opportunity right now to make Amundsen High School a truly great neighborhood high school. We have the opportunity to select a new principal who can be an energetic and motivational leader, as you discuss in the story above. A group of community members and parents have created a Friends of Amundsen group ( ), which was just recently approved by the LSC and will be in a position to provide much needed community support and outreach in the future. Plus, Amundsen is in the enviable position of being located in a TIF district, and both Alderman Pawar and Alderman O’Connor have expressed support for designating large chunks of TIF dollars for capital investment in the school. It is critical that the school seize this opportunity, by reaching out to connect with current and future parents of students, along with the community at large, to leverage these opportunities. I know I am in a position to help, which is why I am running for a Community Representative seat on the LSC. You may have seen information about the Amundsen LSC elections and my campaign on my campaign website ( ), or on Everyblock, Facebook, Twitter, or various local news websites like this one. You might have met me at one of numerous block club meetings, or at elementary school LSC or friends of meetings. You can be sure that I will bring those same tools and skills online and off, and that same enthusiasm, to Amundsen’s LSC, and that I will work hard to ensure that Amundsen quickly becomes a school that all of us can be proud of.

    _Jeff Newman
    Community Representative candidate, Amundsen LSC