Chicagoans are set to see a new office on their ballot in November 2024.
For the first time, voters will elect members to the Chicago Board of Education.
It’s a massive transformation as board members were previously appointed by the mayor. The board will also shift from having seven members to 21.
While election day is set, the districts that board members will run in have not been decided.
State lawmakers have been working with community groups all vying for representation, while also trying to beat the clock so that candidates have enough campaigning time. Lawmakers must decide on the map by April 1, 2024.
Chicago would be divided into 10 separate electoral districts for the 2024 elections and into 20 districts for the 2026 elections.
From January 2025 to January 2027, each district would be represented both by one elected member serving a four-year term and one appointed member serving a two-year term.
The Senate Special Committee on the Chicago Elected Representative School Board is now starting to hold hearings on the proposed maps and what community groups and parents would want to see in them.
Valerie Leonard, co-founder of Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting, said her group’s proposed map will align city resources with CPS resources to support student outcomes.
For Jessica Cañas, senior community engagement manager at Kids First Chicago, the issue with the Senate’s proposed maps is the lack of Latino representation. The maps are based on Chicago’s overall population, meaning fewer majority Latino districts.
The student body of Chicago Public Schools is 46.5% Latino, 35.8% Black and 11% White. Meanwhile, Chicago’s general population is 33% White, 29% Black and 28.7% Latino.
The Senate-proposed map draft released in May would create seven majority-White districts, seven majority-Black districts and six majority-Latino districts.
“(Parents we work with) want the elected school board to represent the demographics of CPS students – they want to make sure we have a racially diverse board,” Cañas said.
Grace Chan McKibben, executive director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said she wants to see at least one plurality district where Asians wouldn’t make up 50%, but would make up the largest proportion of the demographics.
“We should be able to have somebody that can represent that voice,” Chan McKibben said.
The Senate holds its next hearing on the maps at 5 p.m. Thursday.