WBEZ | school closings http://www.wbez.org/tags/school-closings Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What we lose when a neighborhood school goes away http://www.wbez.org/news/what-we-lose-when-neighborhood-school-goes-away-112919 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1stdayofschool-web-054897995acdc462d44ea81eb9e62f35b805595f.jpg" title="It's no accident that neighborhood schools are battlegrounds for so many of the pitched battles over race and place in America. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><p>A few years ago, a good friend and I were walking near downtown Philadelphia, not far from my old elementary school, Thomas C. Durham, on 16th and Lombard. The school was built on the edge of a black neighborhood in South Philly in the early 1900s,&nbsp;<a href="http://philadelphiaencyclopedia.org/archive/education-and-opportunity-2/mediadfhgfbdfgdfbdfbstream-ashx/">and its design earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places</a>&nbsp;when I was in the third grade. I nudged my friend to take a quick detour with me.</p><p>Standing before the old, brown brick building, I had that vaguely bewildering feeling of considering one&#39;s elementary school through adult eyes. This place that loomed large in my memory, where I learned to love reading in Ms. Curtis&#39;s class and where I sent my first email in computer lab on a white Apple IIGS with a blue screen, seemed really damn small.</p><p>But memory was the only place that Durham &mdash; my Durham &mdash; still existed. The school had closed its doors in the late 1990s because of the city&#39;s crushing budget problems, and was later swept up in a wave of charter-ization that took over Philly after I graduated. The old Durham building now housed something called the Independence Charter School. My middle school, George C. Thomas in deeper South Philly, has undergone a similar conversion. They were part of a larger trend: In the last three years alone, Philadelphia has shuttered over 30 of its public schools. And&nbsp;<a href="http://www.publiccharters.org/dashboard/students/district/PA-39/year/2012">because of the makeup of Philly&#39;s public school system</a>, most of the students affected by all this upheaval have been less-resourced children of color.</p><p>So what happens to these places? Some became charters like Durham and Thomas; others were abandoned altogether. And then there are cases like Edward W. Bok High School in South Philly, a once well-known vocational-technical school that closed two years ago,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.phillymag.com/citified/2015/09/04/le-bok-fin-yelp-review/">found new life as the digs of a trendy hipster bar</a>, and has become an inevitable flashpoint in the fight between the neighborhood&#39;s gentrifiers and the folks with older roots.</p><p>It&#39;s no accident that local schools are battlegrounds for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/562/the-problem-we-all-live-with">so many of our most heated, pitched battles over race and place in America</a>; schools are the reasons many of our cities and suburbs (and the neighborhoods therein) have the borders they do. There are big structural and pedagogical questions embedded in how we decide to educate (or not educate), how we prioritize and allocate our public resources.&nbsp;<em>Who gets to go to the best of them? Where are they located? Do we have to share?</em></p><p>But as I realized when I visited the ghost of Durham, local schools also fulfill a smaller, human-scale function: they orient us to our own histories, anchors of continuity in the places where we were from. Schools are where young people first learn how to interact with their communities in official and personal capacities, and offer a touchstone to reconnect with way down the line. Our schools are signposts in the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our communities. When I was reporting from Ferguson last summer, folks I talked to from all over St. Louis told me&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/where-d-you-go-to-high-school-study-looks-into/article_cb5e17fa-5c95-55d8-af73-eae738ed84fd.html">that the customary greeting asked of strangers upon the first meeting</a>&nbsp;is, &quot;What high school did you go to?&quot; The answer, they said, carries with it all sorts of local meaning about just who you were and who you knew.</p><p>All this messiness over communal identity is what&#39;s at stake in the intense, ongoing fight over Walter H. Dyett High School, in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago&#39;s South Side. In the first half of the 20th century, Bronzeville was one of the great Northern berths for black folks who left the South during the Great Migration. Dyett bears the name of a popular music teacher who taught local kids who came up during that time, including Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington.</p><p>A few years ago,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/29/why-hunger-strikers-are-risking-their-health-to-save-a-chicago-public-high-school/">Chicago announced it would shut the school down in 2015</a>, and Dyett has been on a slow death march ever since. Teachers quit. Students transferred out. No new students were allowed to enroll. And for the last few weeks, dozens of folks from the neighborhood surrounding Dyett High have staged a hunger strike in the hopes of forcing the city to keep its doors open. &quot;Why can&#39;t we have public schools?&quot;<a href="http://edushyster.com/now-under-new-management/">one of the protesters said</a>. &quot;Why do low-income minority students need to have their schools run by private contractors? We want this school to anchor the community for the next 75 years.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/20625361_h20080063-eb739edcb0945bcd530934427fbd7def54659d18.jpg" title="Walter H. Dyett High School principal Charles Campbell tours the school in Chicago, in 2012. The bipartisan education reform movement sweeping the nation calls for rating schools by their students' test scores and then taking drastic steps to overhaul the worst performers by firing the teachers, turning the schools over to private management or shutting them down altogether. (Jim Young/Reuters/Landov)" /></div><p>Notably, Dyett High is a &quot;neighborhood school&quot; &mdash; also called an &quot;open enrollment school&quot; &mdash; which means any child from the local community can attend; it&#39;s the last of its kind in the surrounding neighborhood. That&#39;s different from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/17/us/magnet-schools-find-a-renewed-embrace-in-cities.html">a magnet school</a>, which tend to have admissions requirements like test scores and even auditions, or charter schools, where students often gain admission via lottery. As charters and magnet schools have swept across places like Philly and Chicago &mdash; and taken many of the most-resourced and involved parents with them &ndash; neighborhood schools like Dyett High have become increasingly unfashionable. For parents and students, the most desirable educational options become increasingly further away and more difficult to get into.</p><p>If going on a hunger strike for a struggling local school seems extreme, consider the lengths people with deeper pockets will go for their beloved public schools. My Code Switch partner Kat Chow reported last week on how proud alumni and parents in Allen, TX, outside Dallas,&nbsp;<a href="http://keranews.org/post/allen-eagles-have-landed-back-their-repaired-stadium">celebrated the re-opening of the town&#39;s shiny $60-million football stadium for the local high school</a>. &quot;We&#39;re proud,&quot; one parent said. &quot;We&#39;ll spend the money, and we&#39;ll do [anything], to make this town proud of our kids. We&#39;ll do anything we can for our kids.&quot;</p><p>Eve Ewing, a sociologist who studies education at Harvard, wrote&nbsp;<a href="http://sevenscribes.com/phantoms-playing-double-dutch-why-the-fight-for-dyett-is-bigger-than-one-chicago-school-closing/">a moving essay at Seven Scribes</a>&nbsp;about the fight over the future of Dyett High in Chicago. By Ewing&#39;s count, more than a dozen elementary schools in the neighborhood had been shuttered since 1998 &mdash; including one where she&#39;d herself been a teacher.</p><p>When I found out that the school where I taught would be closing, I was visiting my father in Florida for spring break, and I locked myself in the bedroom and cried like a little kid. I started replaying life there in my head, over and over, like a sappy montage in a bad movie. Here&#39;s me walking down the hallway for the first time, on my way to meet the principal for a job interview. Here&#39;s Nathan, staying in my classroom after hours to write and illustrate a story about the Clutch Plague. Here&#39;s Patricia standing proudly in front of the whole school and perfectly reciting her lines as Lady Capulet, despite her hearing impairment and speech impediment. Here&#39;s the staff meeting where we find out that Nashae has cancer, and strategize about how we&#39;re going to coordinate hospital visits, frozen dinners, and rides home for her sister. Here&#39;s Omari connecting a circuit for the first time, and Sierra lovingly feeding Peanut, the gecko that was our class pet. Here is our school.</p><p>Jelani Cobb wrestled with many of these same ideas in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/31/class-notes-annals-of-education-jelani-cobb">an essay at the New Yorker</a>about the recent closing of his own big public high school in Queens, N.Y. That school, Jamaica High, was once the largest in the country, reflective of the community&#39;s diversity and one of the city&#39;s best-performing institutions. But as thinking about public education shifted to embrace smaller, more specialized schools, the exodus of top students from Jamaica High meant its student body quickly became much poorer and less diverse. In the course of just two decades, it went from one of the jewels of the New York public school system to a gargantuan, shabby stand-in for all of the supposed ills inherent in the neighborhood schools system.</p><p>Cobb writes that this particular genre of civic demise is deeply enmeshed in the particular racial histories of our big cities. Public schools were central to the flight of whites out of those cities in the middle of the last century. Today, the anxiety over what to do with many of those same public schools, left under-resourced even as they were tasked with solving all sorts of broader societal problems that attend concentrated poverty, has become a pressing challenge for cities as children of the suburbs head back into urban centers.</p><p>Different cities have taken various approaches over the last decade &mdash; more magnet schools, more charter schools, and breaking up big schools into several smaller schools that all use the same building. But as Cobb points out, when public education is the avenue we decide to use to address broader inequities in American life, it tend to end badly for the schools charged with all that heavy lifting.</p><p>&quot;Both busing and school closure recognize the educational obstacles that concentrated poverty creates,&quot; he writes. &quot;But busing recognized a combination of unjust history and policy as complicit in educational failure. In the ideology of school closure, though, the lines of responsibility&mdash;of blame, really&mdash;run inward. It&#39;s not society that has failed, in this perspective. It&#39;s the schools.&quot;</p><p>Accepting this narrative, shaky as it may be, leads to one logical outcome: tear down the schools that no one wants, in neighborhoods no one cares about. But that also means wiping out something central to our personal stories of growing up and coming of age and being from a place. Eve Ewing, the Harvard sociologist, told me the story of one man she spoke to in Bronzeville who realized that every school he attended growing up &mdash; elementary school, middle school, high school &mdash; was no longer around.</p><p>There were only 13 kids in the final class of Dyett High that graduated last June, and Ewing said those last students doggedly refused to leave. Some local folks donated instruments so that they could put together a school band; some other folks helped the Dyett kids cobble together a senior prom. They were trying to give Dyett&#39;s last senior class some semblance of the familiar American high school experience. &quot;I talked to one of the them,&quot; Ewing said, &quot;and he told me, &#39;I know this is embarrassing to say, but I never got to be the cool senior. I&#39;ll never get that back.&#39;&quot;</p><p>No more or less embarrassing than spending $60 million on high school football stadium, to those who decide they want to do it. Or than refusing to eat in a last-ditch attempt to save your neighborhood school from going away. This is the way people feel about their schools and the promises embedded in them. &quot;These are the psychic archives we carry with us,&quot; Ewing said.</p><p>It was a peculiar sense of loss that I felt the day I visited Durham &mdash; one of unmooring. It&#39;s a feeling with which a growing number of people who grew up in America&#39;s big cities can relate. The local fights over what to do with struggling schools usually center on things that can be measured, like test scores and graduation rates. But those debates tend to miss another big part of what makes school so vital to their communities in the first place, and why we keep investing so much in them &mdash; emotionally, and if we can, financially &mdash; long after we&#39;ve moved on.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/09/14/439450644/what-else-we-lose-when-a-neighborhood-school-goes-away">NPR&#39;s Code Switch</a></em></p></p> Mon, 14 Sep 2015 09:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-we-lose-when-neighborhood-school-goes-away-112919 Chicago school board to consider charter relocations, renewals http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-consider-charter-relocations-renewals-112083 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cappleman.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote Wednesday on proposals that would expand enrollment at several charter schools and move some into different buildings.</p><p>In one case, Rowe Elementary would move into the old Peabody elementary school, a building shuttered during the 2013 mass closings. The district no longer owns the Peabody building. If it approves the move, the district would have to provide the public charter school with extra money to cover rent and maintenance costs at Peabody.</p><p>&ldquo;(Chicago Public Schools) promised to not only the aldermen, the state legislature, and the public, that they would not allow charter schools into closed school buildings,&rdquo; said Martin Ritter, an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union. &ldquo;CPS has a serious problem with its credibility.&rdquo;</p><p>Ritter and hundreds of others showed up to a public hearing last week at CPS headquarters. However, the move of Rowe to Peabody was not the most hotly contested.</p><p>Principals, parents, and several elected officials spoke against a proposal to move The Noble Academy to 640 W. Irving Park Rd. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said that move would &ldquo;suck the lifeblood&rdquo; out of the area&rsquo;s existing neighborhood high schools. If the move is approved, The Noble Academy would add an eighth public high school to the North Side neighborhoods of Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Andersonville and Rogers Park.</p><p>&ldquo;Our schools have a capacity of about 7,400,&rdquo; said Senn High School Principal Susan Lofton, referring to Senn, and nearby Sullivan, Lakeview, Uplift and Amundsen high schools.</p><p>Eleven elected officials signed a letter in opposition to the move. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), whose ward includes Amundsen and Lakeview, was one of them.</p><p>&ldquo;When you add a charter school to that mix and you have per pupil funding where dollars follow students, you once again add a market for additional seats where one didn&rsquo;t exist,&rdquo; Pawar said at the hearing.</p><p>The school district is currently facing a $1.1 billion deficit.</p><p>Matt McCabe, director of government affairs for the Noble Street Charter School network, said he doesn&rsquo;t think the school would impact enrollment at nearby schools.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t see it as any sort of detriment to the other schools in the area,&rdquo; McCabe said. &ldquo;Because facilities are such a challenge generally, you look high and low and wide and far to try to find the best option for kids. This is what came out as the best option.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://thenobleacademy.noblenetwork.org/">The Noble Academy</a>, like other charter schools, enrolls students from across the city, &ldquo;from 106 elementary schools and 45 different zip codes,&rdquo; McCabe said. Currently, the school is using temporary space next door to Noble&rsquo;s downtown campus, Muchin College Prep, but school officials said they need a &ldquo;permanent home.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to the proposals to move Noble and Rowe, the Board is also <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/may_27_2015_public_agenda_to_print_2.pdf">expected to vote</a> on the following:</p><ul><li><p>Delaying the opening of three more alternative schools run by for-profit companies: Ombudsman, Pathways, and Magic Johnson Bridgescape. The Board will also consider providing an additional $2.2 million in start-up funding to these three operators in spite of the delays.</p></li><li><p>Closing Catalyst-Howland Charter School. According to the board report, Catalyst officials voluntarily proposed the closure of that campus. It was previously <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/10/five-charters-put-warning-list-face-potential-shut-down/">placed on academic warning</a>.</p></li><li><p>Rescinding a previous approval to allow UNO Charter School Network to open two more schools.</p></li><li><p>Rescinding a previous approval to allow Concept Schools to open another Horizon Science Academy on the South Side. CPS halted plans to open the school last fall <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/160694/cps-scraps-south-side-campus-for-controversial-charter-schoo">amid a federal probe</a> into Concept&rsquo;s operations.</p></li><li><p>Extending six school turnaround contracts (at Dulles, Curtis, Deneen, Bradwell, Johnson, and Phillips) with the Academy for Urban School Leadership through 2018.</p></li><li><p>Five-year charter contract renewals with the Academy for Global Citizenship, Erie, Urban Prep &ndash; Bronzeville, Rowe, Legacy, and Youth Connections Charter Schools.</p></li><li><p>Three-year charter contract renewals with EPIC Academy, Galapagos, Instituto Health Sciences Academy, Urban Prep &ndash; Englewood, Urban Prep &ndash; West, and Chicago Tech Academy.</p></li></ul></p> Mon, 25 May 2015 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-consider-charter-relocations-renewals-112083 Charters might move into closed CPS schools http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/panorama.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><em>A LEARN charter school (right) rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school (left). Chicago Public Schools paid $67,151 in utilities for Calhoun North from Sept. 2013 to July 2014, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. At the same time, CPS pays LEARN $750 per student to offset rent and other facility costs. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)</em></p><p>There are 40 school buildings <a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/schoolrepurposing.aspx">still sitting vacant</a> across Chicago since the mass closings of 2013. Just two have been sold and the rest cost Chicagoans $2 million annually to maintain.</p><p>These schools are slow to sell for a number of reasons. Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-closures-only-add-blight-some-chicago-neighborhoods-107345">aren&rsquo;t in thriving neighborhoods</a>. The buildings are old. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of obvious alternate uses.</p><p>But one big reason the empty schools continue to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-shuttered-chicago-school-shows-all-that%E2%80%99s-left-behind-108419">collect dust</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/vacant-schools-philadelphia-cautionary-tale-chicago-105570">fall into disrepair</a> is this: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-training-academy-cooperating-federal-investigation-district-111891">currently on leave</a>, made a promise that eliminated a whole group of potential buyers.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063#map" target="_blank">How close are charter schools to vacant CPS buildings?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;We currently cannot sell any of the properties to a charter school,&rdquo; said Mike Nardini, the district&rsquo;s real estate agent. &ldquo;Does it limit our buyers? Only to the extent that it can&rsquo;t be a charter any more than it could be a nightclub.&rdquo;</p><p>The promise made sense at the time considering one of the main arguments for shutting down 50 schools was to downsize the district. CPS officials argued the school system was operating inefficiently with too many schools and not enough students enrolled.</p><p>But the Chicago Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">continues to authorize new charter schools</a>. In the past, charters often <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures">moved into closed school buildings</a>, but that upset many community people, who saw the publicly financed, privately operated charters as replacing traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Wednesday the Board could be convinced to change its mind.</p><p>&ldquo;If a community were to determine that they do want a charter school in that closed site, then that is something that we would consider,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McCaffrey was very careful to say officials would break the promise only if the community supports it, not because it might save money.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first consideration isn&rsquo;t the financial implication,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>But saving money is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cps-budget-crisis-met-20150422-story.html#page=1">the biggest problem</a> CPS has right now, and the &lsquo;no-charter&rsquo; promise complicates things. Charter schools that are in private buildings currently get $750 per student from CPS to offset rent and other maintenance costs. This is commonly known as a &ldquo;facilities reimbursement.&rdquo; &nbsp;And while these real estate deals can be complicated, the bottom line is that Chicago taxpayers end up paying extra to charter schools who are forced to rent on the private market. &nbsp;And those same taxpayers also are paying to maintain buildings the city already owns, but isn&rsquo;t using.</p><p>&ldquo;These are assets that we have in our city that are paid for typically and what we don&rsquo;t need are more vacant buildings,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>In many cases, the charters and the vacant buildings are just blocks away from one another. In Garfield Park, a LEARN charter school rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school. In Woodlawn, a University of Chicago Charter School is planning to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/03/09/u-of-c-planning-new-building-for-woodlawn-charter-school/">build a brand new school</a> on a plot of land right next to a CPS-owned building where it currently operates.</p><p>It all speaks to a very basic and fundamental question that no one&mdash;CPS, the mayor, city aldermen&mdash;has grappled with: Exactly how many public schools does Chicago need? And where should they be?</p><p>When asked after Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s not his job.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something CPS will do based on the student population, patterns of growth,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a fair question, but not the only question. Are the schools that are open achieving educational excellence?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS is holding public hearings Thursday night on <a href="http://cps.edu/Calendar/Documents/05212015_MMAPublicHearing.pdf">new requests</a> by charter schools to move to different locations. Most have plans to move into private buildings, but at least one, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-charter-school-closed-building-met-20150520-story.html">The Chicago Tribune reports</a>, wants to move into the closed Peabody Elementary school on the West Side. Peabody <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-school-closing-brief-met-20141022-story.html">was sold last fall</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.<a name="map"></a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/charterbuildings" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 Back to class after cold days http://www.wbez.org/news/back-class-after-cold-days-109480 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/8464704158_dc3cb9c60a_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Temperatures have finally climbed above zero and that means children all across the Greater Chicago area are climbing out of bed this morning.<br /><br />After being closed the past two days for extreme cold, classes at Chicago Public Schools and a number of suburban districts are back in session.<br /><br />Many students and school staff may have seen the extended break as late Christmas present, but Illinois law requires cancelled days to be made up later in the school year. Students must attend school for a minimum 176 days.<br /><br />Usually, districts will add days before summer break, but some will work them in during the year instead.<br /><br />&ldquo;People argue that in June the instructional merit of those days is lost,&rdquo; said Karen Geddeis, spokeswoman for Glenbrook High School District 225. &ldquo;These days are built in when they instructionally make sense.&rdquo;<br /><br />Three years ago, Geddeis said, the district started working emergency days in throughout the year.&nbsp; That means the past two off days will be made up next Monday, January 13, and after spring break, on March 31.<br /><br />Niles Township High School District 219 will do something similar. Spokesman Jim Szczepaniak said the district&rsquo;s three high schools will be in session next Friday, January 17th, when they otherwise would be off, which helps with upcoming finals. The other will be made up on Friday, June 6th.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re talking about our final exam schedule,&rdquo; Szczepaniak said.&nbsp; &ldquo;We want to make sure we give students and teachers as much instructional time and preparation time as possible.&rdquo;<br /><br />Chicago Public Schools spokesman Joel Hood said the missed days will be made up, even though CPS extended its school year to 180 days, above the 176 required by the state. Officials are still determining when they will schedule the make-up days.<br /><br />In Indiana, state education officials say schools won&rsquo;t be required to make up these missed days.&nbsp; Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said all districts can get a waiver for these two days specifically. Normally, the state of Indiana requires students attend school for 180 days.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. She tweets from <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 Jan 2014 10:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/back-class-after-cold-days-109480 School's beloved orchestra survives closing, but future budget cuts loom http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/schools-beloved-orchestra-survives-closing-future-budget-cuts-loom-109456 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 11.32.08 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-607daf24-53ff-fdef-8dc6-9adf8da2275c">It was a year of change for the Chicago Public Schools&mdash;nearly 50 schools shut their doors over the summer, leaving behind <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">books, desks, and even, an orange pick-up truck</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">But what happened to the less tangible things inside the closing schools? WBEZ&rsquo;s Becky Vevea visited a school that managed to save a popular program from a nearby closed school.</p><p dir="ltr">The orchestra at Lafayette Elementary <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/lafayette-elementary-string-orchestra-tunes-despite-uncertain-future-107255">grabbed headlines</a> last spring when the Chicago Board of Education was deciding what schools to shutter.</p><p dir="ltr">Just four days before the Board <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-votes-close-50-schools-107294">voted to shutter Lafayette and 49 other schools</a>, Artus Weible, the music teacher at Lafayette, directed his string ensemble on the sidewalk along Augusta Boulevard in Humboldt Park.</p><p dir="ltr">It was a Saturday in May and Weible still had no idea what would happen to the program after the closings.</p><p dir="ltr">But just before the holiday break, Weible stood on the stage in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Chopin Elementary auditorium.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is one of our favorites we brought over from Lafayette, here to Chopin, and we&rsquo;ve had a great time putting it together for you,&rdquo; Weible said.</p><p dir="ltr">At the school&rsquo;s holiday concert, about 25 students lined up shoulder-to-shoulder across the front of the stage clutching their violins. Another 40 students&mdash;the older and more experienced group&mdash;sat in a semi-circle behind the beginners. Across the back of each black music stand is the word &ldquo;Lafayette&rdquo; scrawled in white paint.</p><p dir="ltr">Chopin was the official &ldquo;welcoming school&rdquo; for students at Lafayette. A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/closing-schools-diaspora-108518">WBEZ analysis</a> earlier this year found that Lafayette students enrolled at 26 different schools across CPS, but the bulk of them&mdash;more than 200 children&mdash;landed at Chopin.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There was so much uncertainty and people going through the halls and classrooms before we got the news even that we were closing, they were inventorying all the supplies. It was pretty traumatic,&rdquo; said Beth Bistrow. Bistrow is with the Merit School of Music and helped Weible start the string orchestra at Lafayette 13 years ago.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we found out the news. What was it the end of July or something? I was, I was totally flabbergasted. I got a call and said we&rsquo;re having the program. And I was so happy to get here. I thought, maybe, I&rsquo;d never see these kids again.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">One of those kids was seventh grader Anayse Soto.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When I found out that Merit was going to be here, I begged my mom to sign me in here just for the program,&rdquo; Soto said.</p><p dir="ltr">But there are still big challenges.</p><p>For one, merging two school cultures hasn&rsquo;t been easy. There are still hallway spats and one third grader tells me the &ldquo;other kids&rdquo; swear too much.</p><p dir="ltr">Then, there&rsquo;s the issue of space. Chopin elementary now has an enrollment of nearly 600 students, up from about 250 last year. The Chopin building is meant to hold 720 students, according to CPS&rsquo;s space utilization guidelines.</p><p dir="ltr">Bistrow said that&rsquo;s way less than Lafayette, which has a capacity of 1,320 students. (Next year, Chicago High School for the Arts, a contract school with about 600 students, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/arts-school-take-over-one-chicagos-43-closed-school-buildings-109075">will move into the Lafayette building</a>.)</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have any classrooms and we don&rsquo;t have any storage space, which is true of everyone in the school,&rdquo; Bistro said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re just jammed in.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We use every classroom,&rdquo; said Fredrick Williams, the new principal at Chopin. He came from Near North Elementary&mdash;a special education school that was also shut down last year. &ldquo;We use every space. We use what used to be storage space for some of our office space.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Williams said he used Chopin&rsquo;s special welcoming school funds to pay for the orchestra program.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Once I had an opportunity to talk about this transition and think about pieces that we could keep for sure, Merit was always something that was going to be there from day one,&rdquo; Williams said.</p><p dir="ltr">But next year&rsquo;s budget is a different story.</p><p dir="ltr">We used a lot of one-time-only funds to make this year happen,&rdquo; Weible, the music teacher, said. &ldquo;Those funds will not be available next year.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">And that&rsquo;s an issue for schools in every corner of Chicago, not just Chopin.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;How many worthy programs are out there and some will not get the funding they deserve?&rdquo; Weible said. &ldquo;I can only say this: The arts are not a luxury.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 02 Jan 2014 10:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/schools-beloved-orchestra-survives-closing-future-budget-cuts-loom-109456 More overruns: Cost to empty out closed Chicago schools now set to triple http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cps overruns_131217_LL.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s board of education will consider yet another significant increase in what it is paying to empty out Chicago&rsquo;s closed school buildings.</p><p>Back in April&mdash;even before the vote to close 50 schools&mdash;the district <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_04/13-0403-PR2-1.pdf">signed a contract</a> with logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions to move all the things out of schools. Price tag: $8.9 million.</p><p>GWS worked throughout the summer to inventory and move computers, books, furniture and other supplies from closed schools into so-called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/ex-marines-mission-make-sure-cps-welcoming-schools-are-welcoming-108501">Welcoming Schools</a>.</p><p>In September, the district<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364"> quietly doubled the amount of the contract</a>, to $18.9 million. Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; closing czar said the reason for the overrun had to do with the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">volume </a>of stuff movers found in the 43 shuttered buildings they are emptying out.</p><p>Now, the agenda for Wednesday&rsquo;s school board meeting shows the board will vote on another increase, this time to &nbsp;$30.9 million, more than tripling the amount of the original contract with GWS.</p><p>A CPS document says the hike is necessary to board up, fence, and install security posts around 30 buildings.</p><p>And it will cover the cost of redistributing materials around the district. Elementary school principals have been told not to purchase any more books until the district holds <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicagos-closed-schools-109360">an online book fair in January. It&rsquo;s trying to get rid of a million books it has from the closing schools</a> and its warehouse.</p><p>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</p></p> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 06:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-overruns-cost-empty-out-closed-chicago-schools-now-set-triple-109387 Morning Shift: Coping with the high cost of renting http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-16/morning-shift-coping-high-cost-renting-109378 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Flickr stevendamron.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Housing reporter Dennis Rodkin discusses how renters across the country are dealing with higher prices. Curious City figures out the fate of supplies and materials from closed schools. And, Cheryl Raye-Stout tells us what we have to look forward to in Chicago sports.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rent/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rent.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-rent" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Coping with the high cost of renting" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 07:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-16/morning-shift-coping-high-cost-renting-109378 Cost to empty out closed schools doubles http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cps movers_131213_LL.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Removing everything from Chicago&rsquo;s closed schools will cost $10 million more than the district originally signed on for.</p><p>The price tag for moving desks, chairs, books, computers, and everything else out of 43 shuttered school buildings is now <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_08/13-0828-PR10-1.pdf">$18.9 million dollars</a>, more than double <a href="http://www.csc.cps.k12.il.us/purchasing/pdfs/contracts/2013_04/13-0403-PR2-1.pdf">the original $8.9 million dollar contract</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/ex-marines-mission-make-sure-cps-welcoming-schools-are-welcoming-108501">Tom Tyrrell</a> is the Chicago Public Schools official overseeing school closings. He says one thing explains cost overruns:</p><p>&ldquo;The volume of stuff that we ended up moving was three times higher than we estimated it was going to be. It was stunning how much more was in the schools than we anticipated.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>CPS hired the Ohio-based logistics firm Global Workplace Solutions in April to <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/4_3_2013_PR2.aspx">handle </a>the massive move. At the end of August, just as school was starting, Chicago&rsquo;s board of education voted to <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/actions/2013_08/13-0828-PR10.pdf">increase </a>the maximum spending allowed on the logistics contract, and the district quietly amended the contract in mid-September to pay GWS $10 million more. The increase has not been reported in the media.</p><p>The contract amendment shows GWS spent more than expected on boxes and other moving materials; warehousing, disposal and liquidation of district assets; board-ups; and IT needs.</p><p>Costs went up by $850,000 when students from closed schools <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/only-60-percent-students-chicagos-closed-schools-turn-welcoming-schools-108907">enrolled in schools other than those the district had designated</a>.</p><p>Tyrrell says CPS has made use of the movers to handle additional work, like 11 new &ldquo;co-locations&rdquo; where two or more schools share the same building. &nbsp;And he says other costs associated with closings are coming in under budget. Tyrrell says the overall costs of closing the historic number of schools &mdash; which includes things like transition coordinators, &ldquo;integration&rdquo; events between closing and receiving schools, and social-emotional learning programs &mdash; will remain unchanged at $78 million.</p><p>WBEZ took a closer look at the moving contract thanks in part to a <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/">Curious City</a> <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/988">question</a>. Listener Jenn Adams asked what happened to all the stuff in the closed schools. See our full answer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-happened-all-stuff-chicago%E2%80%99s-closed-schools-109360" target="_blank">here</a>.</p></p> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 23:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cost-empty-out-closed-schools-doubles-109364 Students adjust to new school after closure http://www.wbez.org/news/students-adjust-new-school-after-closure-108564 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/welcoming school ambassadors.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>There are about 100 new faces at Harvard School of Excellence in Englewood this year. That&rsquo;s because the Chicago Board of Education voted to shut down nearby Yale Elementary at the end of last school year.</p><p>It&rsquo;s only been a few days, so students are still warming up to one another, but to ease the transition, Harvard Principal Aisha McCarthy had teachers select two students from each class to be &ldquo;welcoming school ambassadors.&rdquo;</p><p>WBEZ producer Becky Vevea interviewed a group of these &ldquo;ambassadors&rdquo; and a few new students who transferred in from Yale.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F107849589" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Harvard is run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit group that specializes in training teachers and turning around low-performing schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Students interviewed include:</p><p>LaQuisha Ashford (former Yale student)</p><p>Annasty Walker</p><p>Emanuel Kent</p><p>Jimmy Pewee</p><p>Timothy Richardson (former Yale student)</p><p>Keshon Tolliver</p><p>Dayjah Hall</p><p>Jada Wilson</p><p>Lawrence Davis</p><p>Jamella Holmes (former Yale student)</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 29 Aug 2013 15:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/students-adjust-new-school-after-closure-108564 Once a school http://www.wbez.org/news/once-school-108496 <p><div><div>With summer waning, photographer Bill Healy took to the streets to document the dozens of buildings that last year housed Chicago elementary schools, and now are shuttered. In May, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 schools, the largest single round of school closings in recent American history. Healy set out to document the conditions in and around the closed school buildings. He captured ghostly images of empty playgrounds and abandoned classrooms that serve as a testament to a changing city. On Monday, children from these closed schools will start the year at their new schools. The fate of these buildings remains uncertain, but the memories linger. Here are some of Healy&#39;s favorite images.</div><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div><div><em>Bill Healy is a photographer and producer at WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan">@chicagoan</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2001.jpg" title="Bontemps Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2002.jpg" title="West Pullman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill Healy 03.jpg" title="Peabody Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2004.jpg" title="Pope Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2006.jpg" title="Bontemps Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2007.jpg" title="Pope Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2008.jpg" title="Henson Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2009.jpg" title="Ross Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2013.jpg" title="Parkman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2014.jpg" title="Parkman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%20018.jpg" title="Parkman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2018.jpg" title="Parkman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2019.jpg" title="Parkman Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2020.jpg" title="Morgan Elementary (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bill%20Healy%2021.jpg" title="Dodge Elementary(WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 22 Aug 2013 14:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/once-school-108496