For Immediate Release
December 27, 2011

North Chicago School District 187 reviews Charter School Proposals

Three Charter Operators vying to run school on the Naval Station Great Lakes

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 announced today they have received three applications to run a charter school on the Naval Station Great Lakes for students living within District boundaries. The proposals will be reviewed by a committee and the group’s recommendation will be discussed at a public hearing before going to the District Superintendent and school board for a final decision by March next year.

“A charter serving students in this school system could provide another educational opportunity in a District that is undergoing dramatic transformation to improve and better prepare all students for career and college,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We know change will take time and we will be working closely with this District and any potential charter for several years to ensure it stays on the right track.” 

Last spring, ISBE and North Chicago School District 187 signed an intergovernmental agreement that gives the state education agency oversight of the district as both entities work together to improve the District’s academic performance and financial condition. The charter is expected to serve up to 500 kindergarteners through eighth-graders with a unique academic focus, possibly Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

District 187 hopes to take advantage of increased flexibilities allowed to charters, such as the ability to implement new and innovative programming, extended school hours and school years, and classes that integrate the school’s primary academic theme, such as math lessons that incorporate music or physical fitness.

“We are eager to hear more about how the flexibilities available to charter schools will help develop programs that best meet the unique needs of our students,” said School Board President Kenneth Robinson. “We hope that this potential school might offer some lessons that will benefit the entire district.”

As a public school authorized by District 187, a charter would be open to district students but could possibly allow a fixed percentage of eligible students to come from military families. Such a preference could provide a financial benefit because the district receives federal funds in direct proportion to the attendance of military children. It also would require a change in state law that could be considered in the General Assembly’s spring 2012 session. Regardless of the outcome, enrollment will not be limited exclusively to children of military families.

A team made up of the North Chicago District administration, representatives of the ISBE, the Lake County Regional Office of Education, the Navy, regional and charter educational experts and local community members will review the proposals and make a recommendation to investigate more closely one or more of the proposals. The District must schedule a public hearing, per Illinois Charter School law, on the group’s recommendation by Feb. 2, 2012. The local school district, also by state law, must make a decision on the charter proposal by March 5, 2012.

Details and a date for the public hearing, and additional opportunities for community feedback will be posted on the District 187 website at and on the ISBE charter schools website at

The following Charter Operators have submitted proposals to District 187:

  1. Concept Schools: A not-for-profit Charter Management Organization (CMO). Currently, Concept Schools manages 27 charter schools in seven Midwestern states, including two in Illinois: Quest Charter Academy in Peoria and Chicago Math & Science Academy in Chicago.  Proposed charter school name: Great Lakes Math and Science Academy.

  2. LEARN Charter School Network: A not-for-profit Charter network of college prep elementary schools that currently operates five charter school campuses in Chicago.

  3.  SABIS Educational Systems Inc.: Global, private/for-profit Education Management Organization that operates a network of schools (charter, private and other models) in 15 countries.  In the U.S., SABIS operates eight charter schools in Massachusetts, Michigan, Arizona, Louisiana and Ohio, four licensed schools in New York and Michigan, and one private school in Minnesota. First SABIS charter school opened in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1995. Proposed charter school name: North Chicago Preparatory Charter School.