More than 20 percent of city public schools on list for potential closure
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett made the announcement just hours before another round of community meetings began and gave no indication how many schools will ultimately be shuttered.
Schools removed from the list still aren’t in the clear. They could end up being impacted in other ways, such as welcoming students from a closed school or being turned around, a controversial process in which the entire staff is fired but students remain.
One of the criteria for removing schools from the list were if they recently were impacted, but four schools turned around at the start of this school year remain--Herzl, Fuller, Stagg and Piccolo. Byrd-Bennett did not say when the district would announce the schools it plans to turn around.
High schools, schools with more than 600 students and schools that are close to being considered “efficient” were removed from consideration, though Byrd-Bennett said there may be exceptions if a building is in disrepair.
Most of the criteria closely aligned with recommendations put out last month by a commission appointed by Byrd-Bennett late last year.
Schools still eligible for closure (by community area) are listed and mapped below.
The south and west sides of the city have been impacted the most in previous years and again make up the majority of the schools on the list.
“We are actually looking at a poverty index,” said Barbara Radner, director of the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University and a long time CPS observer. She said the list isn’t surprising and basically comes down to the district crunching numbers.
Wendy Katten, executive director of the parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand, said some of the schools “have no business being on this list,” because the district isn’t capturing all the nuances in their utilization numbers.
“Some of these schools have a huge special education population. I was at one today that had a special education population of 37 percent and they didn’t have any empty rooms,” Katten said of Trumball Elementary on the city’s north side.
Chicago Teachers’ Union head Karen Lewis says every time children switch schools, they can fall behind by as much as six months.
“We’ve just seen this movie so many times. It would be nice for them to figure out how to educate children without disrupting their lives,” Lewis said.
Lewis doesn’t want any schools to close.
At a meeting on the West Side Wednesday night, parents, staff and students from schools across Austin and North Lawndale shouted down CPS officials, chanting “No school closings!” and “Save our schools!”
Sixteen of the schools in the Austin-North Lawndale area are still on the possible closure list. It’s the most of any geographic network in CPS. The hearing was at House of Prayer Church of God in Christ and lasted for three hours.
There will be two more meetings this week--tonight, February 14 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Olive Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn and Saturday, February 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson.
Schools still eligible for closure (by community area) are:
The list of schools as released by CPS:
Scott Kanowsky contributed to this report.