According to an article from the Chicago Tribune on Friday, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that the district would not be closing the doors of high schools or high-performing schools, with some exceptions, as it proceeds with closing some schools due to major budgetary issues. The decision comes in light of CPS releasing a cumulative list containing 330 schools that are currently under-utilized for educational purposes and are subject to being shut down.
Here are some facts and details about Byrd-Bennett's announcement today and what it means for the future of the district, schools, and communities:
* Overall, high schools will be saved from closure, except those in buildings that require extensive repairs or ones that don't provide a challenging learning environment or curriculum because of too few students.
* High-performing schools, also known as Level 1 schools, in buildings too expensive to repair could possibly be moved to a nearby under-used building.
* The Chicago Sun-Times reported that CPS will not close schools with small enrollments that are still adding grades for entering students.
* Byrd-Bennett, who has only held her position for a few months, was told by the Commission on School Utilization that schools impacted by major organizational changes, schools with more than 600 enrolled students, and schools considered to be efficient enough to remain open should be off-limits to closure.
* "Closing high schools could potentially result in students traveling further, being forced to cross gang boundaries and placing students in great harm," she wrote to the panel's chairman. "We simply cannot support any decision that would jeopardize the safety and well-being of our students."
* The CPS CEO said she would look at each school on a case-by-case basis and that CPS would be holding more public meetings to include input from parents and community members, noted CBS Chicago .
* Public meetings will begin Jan. 28, with CPS planning on releasing another list of schools recommended for closure by Feb. 13. A final list of recommended closings will be delivered to the Board of Education this March.
* According to a press release from the district, which also contains the official meeting schedule, CPS will give each school network two community meetings, the first which will take place in Ravenswood-Ridge, to voice their opinions on the current school list.
* The second round of meetings will occur in communities in which schools remain on the list following the compilation from the commission. These meetings will take place after Feb. 13 and until March 4.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.