How We Got Here
After significant work was completed by the Ogden-Jenner Task Force in 2015 and after the subsequent Ogden LSC's November 2015 vote to continue to explore the possibility of a merger of Ogden International School of Chicago & Jenner Academy of the Arts, a group of parents got together and asked, "How can we continue the exploration of this merger along with other ideas to solve Ogden’s overcrowding and Jenner's under-utilization - all while having a thoughtful, community supported engagement process that explores whether or not it makes sense for both schools to merge? How could we do the analysis and answer some important considerations and questions that were raised in the fall?" The group also asked, "How can we enhance the educational experience of the children at both schools and redress the legacy of uneven educational opportunity in our community?".
This group reached out to both Jenner and Ogden community members and faith leaders, CPS leaders and other experts (both local and national) to identify an approach that would allow for an independent exploration of the issues and allow for robust dialogue. It was acknowledged that there needed to be a thorough and inclusive exploration process, which engages people from both communities and listens and incorporates all perspectives.
With the support of CPS, this initial group of parents joined forces with the additional Ogden and Jenner community members and faith leaders to secure a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, which was designated to hire an independent consultant. A Steering Committee was then constituted, comprised of Jenner parents and community members, Ogden parents and community members and faith leaders. In addition to the Steering Committee, an Advisory Group was also formed to support the project through community outreach and communications. This group is also comprised of a broader group of Jenner and Ogden community members.
In June 2016, the Steering Committee selected an advisory firm, NextLevelNPO, LLC, to engage parents, community members, teachers, Aldermen, CPS and research experts in an effort to represent all voices in this process.
NextLevel was contracted to:
- Develop a thorough understanding of the challenges facing Ogden International School and Jenner Academy for the Arts, respectively
- Create a context in which the communities can objectively evaluate strategic options as presented by parent groups, principals and other stakeholders, with a particular focus on the proposed merger
- Develop additional strategic options as appropriate
- Develop and document a transparent process; engage stakeholders in assessment process to make a recommendation to CPS
- Provide a final report/proposal to the Steering Committee that will then be determined if presented to CPS
NextLevel conducted listening sessions with members of the Jenner and Ogden communities. They also delved into the analysis of data and research findings pertaining to this topic and together, with the community feedback, developed a report that was provided to the Steering Committee in September.
On September 28, 2016, the report was sent to Chief Education Officer, Janice Jackson and Chief Executive Officer, Forrest Claypool at CPS with a recommendation letter from the Steering Committee to merge the two schools in the 2017-2018 school year and they requested that CPS begin developing a transition/implementation plan.
On December 1, 2016 CPS did not announce a School Action for an Ogden/Jenner Merger in 2017-2018. However, they scheduled three community meetings to move forward with a more formal community process. Based on this decision, our expectations are that CPS and the Board of Education will announce a school merger for 2018-2019 after developing a transition and implementation plan based on the community input.
Steering Committee/Advisory Group
- Faith Leader – Rev. Randall K. Blakey
- Faith Leader – Rabbi Seth Limmer
- NNUP Rep - Sharon Wheeler
- NNUP - Youth & Family Committee Chair - Michele Dreczynski
- Jenner Caregiver/Community - Hattie Dennis
- Jenner Community - Aaron Balsam
- Near North Community Rep - Deidre Brewster
- Ogden Parent/community - Cira Conley
- Sinai/Jenner - Heidi Wagman
- Sinai/Jenner - Ellen Schor
- Jenner Parent - Ashley Linzy
- Ogden Parent/community - Rebecca Wells
- Ogden Parent/community - Lori Smedley
- Ogden Parent/community - Ianna Kachoris Ori
- Ogden Parent/community - Thea Kachoris Flores
- Teacher at Ogden - Brendan Vaughan
- Teacher at Jenner - Debbie Sheriff
- Walter Payton student - Dharma Seda González