Until we have an elected school board, the LSC is the only democratic body in CPS our school. Let’s make it work for our school communities.
As LSC election season kicks off, the CTU is encouraging members to run for teacher rep positions on their school’s council. Serving on your LSC is an important way to exercise power in your building and hold CPS and your administration accountable.
Candidate applications are due by 3 p.m. March 4 at the school in which you are running. The election will be held in person at elementary schools April 20 and at high schools April 21. LSCs consist of the school’s principal, six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member and one to three students.
In the run up to the election, CTU is sharing interviews with members who serve on their school’s LSC. We hope their insight and advice helps you decide to run for your LSC!
Kassandra Tsitsopoulos, Prosser Career Academy
Kassandra first won election to the Prosser LSC in 2012 and now serves as the LSC vice chair. She teaches Social Science at the school and also serves as the CTU delegate.CTU: What prompted you to run for the LSC?
Kassandra: I felt like I had taught enough years to feel ready to take on a leadership role at school. I was finishing my Masters in Educational Leadership, we had a difficult principal and we were in a contract fight that year. Some of my coworkers encouraged me so I ran.
CTU: What were some of the things that surprised you most about LSCs when you first started?
Kassandra: First, the lack of training for those who are on the council. I had no clue what I was getting into or any of the procedures. Also, my principal at the time had stacked the council with rubber stampers and nothing was actually getting done.
I didn’t know how to make a motion, or get anything on the agenda, or that we needed a PPLC in order for our collective teacher voice to be heard. My principal would go on a rant, cut off other speakers, combine weird budget transfers, and offer paid jobs to some of our parents on the council. It was not a good situation, and it took perseverance to change the culture of our LSC.
CTU: What are the accomplishments of your LSC you are most proud of?
Kassandra: We’ve stood up against the network and CPS when they wanted to close our auto shop AND we were able to mobilize to stop the expansion of the Noble charter school across the street from Prosser. Also, we’ve worked to increase the transparency we have over principal evaluation and principal selection.
We were able to start a petition and organize a large turnout for our LSC meeting where the network chief and principal were slated to make the announcement to close the auto shop. So many students and parents spoke out during public comment and we even had the press cover the story. As far as principal evaluation is concerned, each year we get the law department to approve a survey to be sent out to the staff and the scores the staff gives helps inform and guide the council on how to evaluate our principal. We also had processes in place for staff, parent, student, and community feedback and forums for picking a new principal.
CTU: Why should CTU members consider running for the LSC in April?
Kassandra: Without an elected school board, LSCs are the only democratically elected bodies we have in our schools. It’s a great way of connecting with parent, student, and community leaders and it keeps unruly principals in check.
CTU: What advice would you give CTU members who are scared to run because of potential principal retaliation?
Kassandra: Our contract and our union protect us! The first time I ran, I had to file a bully grievance against my principal because he kept harassing me at the LSC. It was the best thing I did. The bullying stopped and he eventually left our school.
CTU: Serving on the LSC is a time commitment. What would you say to members who wonder whether it’s worth it, whether the LSC has any real power to make a difference?Kassandra: LSCs have power because CPS and political leaders listen to parents when they call and visit their offices. If you share information and engage your parents, encourage a democratic process and transparency, your administration and CPS will start to listen. Be open with your parents about issues on your PPLC and they’ll start caring, too, since it’s what’s best for the school and their students.
Teachers are in the building everyday and often see the truth behind the facade that some administrators want to portray. By meeting and sharing the PPLC minutes, parents and students get a teacher’s perspective on all things ranging from mask compliance, culture and climate policies addressing cuts and tardies, to allocating funds for a new curriculum, to where special education students should be sent for separate testing, to whether our intercom/bell system is working. It offers parents the opportunity to ask follow up questions about issues they may not think about when it comes to the successful operations of a school.
CTU: Do you have any examples of issues or situations that your LSC successfully championed against the principal’s proposal?
Kassandra: My last principal wanted to close the auto body shop and we rallied to save it, for the time being at least. We forced an open and transparent process instead of the usual “behind closed doors” shenanigans that CPS is known for.
CTU: Do you have a good relationship with the parents and community reps on your LSC? Why or why not? If so, how did you develop those relationships?
Kassandra: Yes, but it took time for those relationships to blossom. First, get to know them, chit chat before and after the meetings. Get your PPLC up and running so that the parents hear directly from teachers about concerns they have — I’ve found that parents often share the same concerns. Be consistent and honest in your communication so that parents see you’re someone they can trust and you’re someone they can get answers from. And, finally, recruit parents you already have relationships with to run for the LSC.
CTU: What supports should CTU provide to LSCs or CTU members serving on LSCs.
Kassandra: That’s easy: training, training, training!!