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CPS marks eight schools for closure; one for phase out

The Chicago Public Schools this morning released a list of eight schools it wants to close beginning next school year. A ninth school will begin to phase out.

Students at closing schools and some of their teachers will move to nearby schools the district says perform better. No schools are being closed for poor performance this year; all those targetted are being shut down for low enrollment. Some of those on the list were already being phased out. One, Anderson school in West Town, had a projected enrollment of just 61 students next year. Studnets from that school will attend LaSalle II magnet school, which is located in the same building.

On the Southeast Side, four small schools in what was once Bowen High School will be consolidated again into a comprehensive high school.

CPS says overall the closings will move about 700 students. Some 200 teachers will be affected.

Parents who got wind that their schools might close began protesting almost immediately.

"We beseech you to not cast us out and foreclose on us—to not put us in the street. Because what you’re doing is paramount to making us homeless," Frieda Dunn told school board members at Wednesday's regular monthly meeting. Dunn's daughter is a seventh grader at Cather Elementary. She told board members there are three gangs operating in the blocks between the two schools. 

Cather has just 219 students. Dunn says the school would have more if it had room to take them, but Cather is sharing its building with Urban Prep Academy-East Garfield Park. Urban Prep is set to expand next year, but there is no room to do that under the current configuration, school officials said. 

Under the district's proposal, more than 400 students from nearby Beidler Elementary would be added to Cather. Urban Prep would then move into Beidler's building. The Board on Wednesday approved a renovation to Beidler's campus park , which did not go unnoticed by Karen Lewis, president of the teachers union.

She said she hoped state lawmakers were watching, and suggested they pass a law currently being drafted to force the distrcit to come up with an overall facilities plan--"a fair plan that is based on student need, not policitcal clout. Not a plan to give two neighborhood schools an inferior building and approve a new $2.2 million campus to a charter school."

Interim schools chief Terry Mazany said he views this moment as "a time of special circumstance." Mazany took over the district at the end of November and says his predecessor, Ron Huberman, did not have a short list of schools that should be considered for closing. Mazany says the closings are part of a right-sizing of the school district and will save money over the long run. He says the nine schools were winnowed down from an initial list of 40.

In addition to Urban Prep, three other relatively new high schools, Alcott High School, Ogden International High School, and Talent Development Charter High School will expand in buildings that are being closed or phased out. Charter schools have argued the district should do more to help them find facilities.

The district will hold hearings on the consolidations over the coming month, and the Board is expected to vote on recommendations at its meeting in April.


CPS proposed closings/consolidations:

Hans Christian Anderson Elementary, 1148 N. Honore St., closes (the school had been phasing out). LaSalle II Magnet School, 1148 N. Honore St.,  is receiving school.

George Schneider Elementary School, 2957 N. Hoyne Ave., closes (the school had been phasing out).  Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Elementary, 3149 N. Wolcott,  is receiving school.

Philo Carpenter Elementary School, 1250W. Erie St.,  closes (the school had been phasing out). Mancel Talcott Elementary, 1840 W. Ohio St.,  is receiving school.

Jacob Beidler Elementary School, 3151 W. Walnut St.,  closes. Willa Cather Elementary School, 2908 W. Washington Blvd.,  is receiving school.

Avondale Elementary School, 2945 N. Sawyer Ave., a K-5 school, and Logandale Middle School (grades 6-8), 3212 W. George St.,  are consolidating and will occupy both buildings as a single K-8 school with one principal.

Tilton Elementary School, 223 N. Keeler Ave.,  is phasing out; there will be no pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten next year. Guglielmo Marconi Elementary, 230 N. Kolmar Ave., and Laura S. Ward, 410 N. Monticello Ave., are receiving schools.

Bowen Environmental Studies High School, Chicago Discovery Academy High School and Bowen Global Visions Academy High School will close, and students will be folded into New Millennium High School, 2710 E. 89th St.

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