Thursday, March 20, 2014

FAQs about CAC

Please share this as needed- there have been some questions circulating and we want to be as informative and transparent as possible.  Also, if you have other questions, please email them to  Thanks for your involvement!

FAQs about the Hyde Park/Kenwood CAC- created March 2014

- What is a CAC (Community Action Council)?
A CAC is a community-organized group that works directly with CPS staff to create a vision for our neighborhood schools. It includes (ideally) all stakeholders- parents, educators, community organizations, faith-based organizations, businesses, not-for-profits.  *Link to CPS’s paperwork on what a CAC is.

- How do I become a member?
There is an application that is filled out and sent to CPS directly *link to application* through fax or mail (details are at the end of the application).  Individuals who apply are considered part of the “CAC board” as members.  Members will be involved in making decisions and kept abreast of information along the way.  Organizations can fill out one application for the whole group to become a member or an individual can apply as a representative from that group.

- Can I come to the meetings if I’m not a member?
YES!  All monthly meetings are open to the community and we encourage people to attend when they can!

- Can I help if I am not a member?
Yes!  You are welcome to volunteer to help in anyway even if you are not a member of the CAC.

- Is there a certain number of members needed for a CAC?
CPS gives a guideline of 20-25 members but that is just a suggestion.  The Hyde Park/Kenwood CAC was formed officially in February 2014 with 21 members and we expect that number to grow!

- Will the applications be capped off at a certain number?
No.  Although there is a deadline on the application of February 28, 2014, applicants who find out about the CAC after that date or decide to join later will not be turned away.  Please note that some work will already be rolling but it will be easy to get up to speed!

- When are the meetings?
The Hyde Park/Kenwood CAC meets every 4th Wednesday at Kenwood Academy HS, at 6p.  We work hard to end the meetings by 7:30p.

- What is the leadership structure?
Currently there are 2 Co-Chairs and 2 Co-Secretaries who are interim leaders until the end of the school year (June) when the CAC as a whole will reassess this structure.  Each Work Group (see next question for more on Work Groups) also has a chair.  

- How is the work getting done?
Right now there are Work Groups that have been formed, which will morph into Committees as the needs of the schools are more defined.  So far, the Work Groups are: Strategic Planning, Rapid Response/Steering, PR/Outreach, and By-Laws.  *link to work group descriptions*  These groups discuss and meet outside of the monthly meeting as they deem is necessary and report back to the larger group.  Currently you do not need to be a member of the CAC through the application process to volunteer to work with one of the Work Groups.

- What is the “work” being done?
The CAC will work with CPS to create a vision for our neighborhood schools.  This involves research and gathering data about the schools and discussing/creating a strategic plan with a longer-term perspective but that might have urgent needs. Some work has been started through the discussion process to prioritize some school issues.  *Link to 3-point plan*  Please note that these documents are working documents to be revisited and adjusted as the CAC develops.

- Can the CAC really have a “say” in our schools?
There are currently 9 CACs in Chicago including Hyde Park/Kenwood.  The other 8 CACs were developed a few years ago in neighborhoods that saw a lot of school actions.  As decisions were made, the CACs were at the table with CPS.  
Bringing together community stakeholders to discuss how to support our neighborhood schools- this, in and of itself, is very important.  Funding is limited and CPS has a large structure and mandates already in place.  We can make our voices heard, however.

- Is the CAC really just a front to save Canter and/or Dyett schools?  What if I am opposed on those issues?
The birth of the CAC was in response to the closing of schools in Hyde Park/Kenwood.  This was the catalyst, yes, but the overall mission has grown beyond individual schools.  The driving factor was the lack of authentic community voice when major decisions were being made about our schools.  The CAC will support all neighborhood schools and create an overarching strategic plan that addresses the needs of our community.  However, Canter and Dyett remain “hot topics” that will be discussed.  If you find yourself on the opposite side with any individual on any argument related to schools, we urge you to attend and become involved in the discourse with the CAC.  We need to work together to hear all perspectives and then create a plan that helps to strengthen the Pre-K to 12th grade continuum in Hyde Park/Kenwood.

- What is the difference between the HPKCAC and the HPKCC?
The HPKCAC is the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Action Council.  This is the group that you have been reading about in this FAQ and the blog you are on.  The “CAC” as it is commonly known, is supported by and heavily connected to CPS.  This allows for access to CPS officials, information directly from CPS, and communication with CPS.

The HPKCC is the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Conference, which has a Schools Committee.  The HPKCC has been around for a very long time and is broader in its mission.  The Schools Committee of the HPKCC works hard to support the neighborhood schools and is independent from CPS entirely.

There has been some confusion about the two, as the Hyde Park/Kenwood Community Conference’s Schools Committee took the initiative to form the Hyde Park/Kenwood CAC.  Although the Schools Committee launched the process to form a CAC, the groups are different but certainly share the same desires to support our schools.

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