In an abrupt change of heart Tuesday, Chicago Public Schools has postponed a mid-day budget hearing until the end of the workday so more more people can participate.
The district said in a news release that the sudden change for the Nov. 28 hearing was “to allow members of the public who cannot attend a daytime meeting to provide feedback on the proposed budget.”
The 6 p.m. hearing replaces one previously scheduled for 12:30 p.m. A 3:30 p.m. hearing remains in place. Anyone wishing to speak still must register up to 90 minutes before each meeting’s start.
The change was publicized a day after a Sun-Times story detailed recommendations by the good government group Civic Federation urging more transparency and meaningful public participation at the district especially given its precarious finances.
State law requires CPS to hold a new round of hearings after making $55 million in operating budget changes stemming from the new teachers contract. District spokeswoman Emily Bittner initially defended the daytime hearings, saying they accommodated the schedules of the appointed board members.
On Tuesday, she would not say what accounted for the change but noted that “the board’s budget hearings will provide members of the public with an opportunity to contribute useful feedback on the district’s proposed budget, and we are pleased to be able to offer a revised hearing schedule that will better accommodate our families.”
Critics have long asked CPS to hold more meetings and hearings afterhours when working parents as well as teachers and students can take part.