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SCHOOL BOARD

The Madison School Board will meet at Chavez Elementary School next week for its regular monthly board meeting. It will be the first time in years a board meeting is held outside of the district's administration building.

When the new members of the Madison School Board are sworn in next week, it won’t be on the stage in the district’s administrative building, where the body typically conducts its business.

Instead, the seven-person body will hold its meeting Monday at Chavez Elementary School on the Southwest Side. The school, 3502 Maple Grove Drive, is the first of several planned to host the monthly board meetings in lieu of the district’s Doyle Administration Building Downtown.

District officials say the move is an effort to increase community engagement. It also comes as the School Board has grappled with disruptions and protests at its previous two meetings from community members who oppose the district’s school-based police officer program.

“As the board works to create more opportunities for engagement with the community, it will hold regular meetings at schools across the district for the next several months,” district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said.

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It will be the first time in several years the School Board has met for a regular meeting outside of the Doyle Administration Building. People are invited to arrive early for a meet-and-greet beginning at 5:15 p.m. New board members Cristiana Carusi, Ali Muldrow and Ananda Mirilli will be sworn in soon after the official 6 p.m. start time.

“This is really about the board getting out in the community and our board members getting to know our schools and our community even better,” said board President Mary Burke.

The typical meeting location — the McDaniels Auditorium in the Doyle building — has been the scene of tense and heated meetings in recent months, with the board moving into a room closed to the public.

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has said she wants to expand the ways in which she and board members engage with constituents. Strauch-Nelson said the meeting Monday will be live-streamed online and recorded just as meetings are when held in the Doyle building.

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