Jones LSC election winners determined

Race, remote learning took center stage


Sam Tedrowe '21

Unlike the positions of Student, Parent, Teacher, Non-Teacher Staff, and Community Representatives, Principal Paul J. Powers is automatically awarded a seat on the Local School Council.

Following a surge of interest and public participation in Local School Council (LSC) meetings across Chicago Public Schools (CPS), parent, student, and faculty/staff positions were announced via a live confirmation meeting for the 2020 LSC election cycle on Dec 3.

Among the 27 people who ran, Doniya Boyd ‘21 was re-elected Student Representative. Elaine Buggs, Cassandra Creswell, Jose Hernandez, Sarah Ma, Latrice McArthur, and Roberto Menjivar were elected to Parent Representatives.  

Kimberly Bowman and Ellen Martinsek were elected Teacher Representatives. Troy Hilbrands was elected Non-Teacher Staff Representative. Rachel Zein, as the only candidate running for Community Representative, will assume the position.
“I was a volunteer at [Jones] on pretty much a weekly basis at the library, which gave me an unusual parental perspective of the environment at Jones,” said McArthur, who was the only Parent Representative re-elected. “With all these new [pandemic and race-related developments] that have come to light, I think it’s imperative that the LSC is as diverse as the Jones student body is.”

Several candidates stressed the importance of a diverse group of Parent Representatives. These candidates sat on the majority side of the council with six seats.  

“I think most of all [in importance] we can have parents who are also for the students, because only one student can be on the council and a student only has so much power,” said Boyd. “A Student Representative definitely needs more allies than just themselves.”

Likewise, candidates stressed the importance of listening to Jones students, citing the highly attended LSC listening session in July.

“The profile of the ideal graduate of Jones College Prep is socially skilled and mature, aware of his or her own attitudes, biases and strengths,” said Buggs during a Candidate Forum. “They are socially just and responsible, which is evident in being culturally aware, like many of those who were present during the Listening Session this summer.”

This intensified emphasis on antiracism has brought about a more racially diverse council.  All but two Parent Representatives elected are people of color.

“We as a school community have to do better,” Buggs said. “I believe that if you see something, not only should you say something, you should do something.”

The Jones LSC has the power to influence budget policy and evaluate administrative performance. They also will approve or dismantle the highly controversial presence of School Resource Officers (SRO) at school.

“Local School Councils are really this unique form of governance in Chicago, and since we don’t have an elected board we’re really the only democratically elected institution within CPS with decision making power,” said Creswell. “To that end, transparency and accountability are absolutely key to making sure that the work of the LSC is open and accessible to the public. Although LSCs only have a small set of powers specified in the law, a well-functioning LSC can be the steward of a school’s culture and vision.”

Similar themes and issues came up over the course of the election cycle, including transparency to the public, holding leaders accountable, and racial equity. Another prominent topic was how to keep the community connected in a time of distance and isolation.

“I was inspired by another parent’s suggestion—to center connection,” said Zein, who is a student at University of Illinois at Chicago. “They suggested that we reach out to parents who are maybe less connected to the goings-on of the Jones school community, especially during this indefinite and precarious period of remote learning.”

Martinsek also said isolated students should connect through built-in unstructured time.

“It’s actually come up a few times in my classes for AP Physics, where students ask if they can stick around to play Among Us in a breakout room,” said Martinsek. “To have conversations with each other that are not geared towards a specific assignment is really beneficial, to have some structured time for this.”

This election happened during the ongoing development of the Jones administration’s antiracist plan. The plan, according to the Jones website’s equity page, aims to prioritize “antiracist training for staff and students,” introducing “culturally appropriate” curriculum, and “increasing and amplifying” student voices.

“What you’ll get with me is an honest person who puts students first,” said Bowman. “My goal is to make sure that students are being served and when they’re not, we have failed them.”

Although the Aug. 11 vote is over, the question of whether to keep the SRO program into the next school year has continued. The LSC has the option to reevaluate the program as needed. All winning candidates who commented on SROs during candidate forums expressed either unease with the program or disagreement with the pro-SRO vote.

“CPS has failed at making sure that officers do not have complaints on their records,” said Hernandez. “I want to make sure that our schools are safe from undue influence from officers that can include students in the Cook County database.”

One word continually kept coming up throughout the forums, candidate statements, and campaign process: healing.

“It’s clear after talking with students, teachers, and parents of the Jones community that Jones needs to heal,” said Ma. “One of the ways that this can happen is through persistence, through vision from our leaders and also through accountability. An effective, efficient, and transparent Local School Council can make this happen.”