According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district has released a list of schools that could be closed down. Initially, 330 schools fit the criteria for closure, but the latest list narrows down that number to 129. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will lead the district with moving forward and further assessing each school before releasing a final list at the end of next month. However, between now and then, the district will be hosting a series of community meetings and if Wednesday night's meeting on the West Side is any indication of the overall public opinion, it could spell weeks of difficulties for the district.
Here are some facts and details about the preliminary list and the public opinion on the district's move to close down schools:
* NBC Chicago reported that CPS used various criteria when narrowing down the list from 330 to 129. The initial criterion for being added to the list was simply underenrollment.
* Schools that are being spared from potential closure include high schools, high performing schools, schools with more than 600 students enrolled on the 20th day of the current school year, and schools that are currently adding grades in order to reach efficient utilization.
* Not all 129 schools on the current list will close in June but no additional schools will be added, noted the Chicago Sun-Times.
* Furthermore, the commission assessing the closures doesn't want more than 20 schools closed in a single school year.
* A majority of the schools on the CPS' list are located on the city's South and West sides.
* The Burnham Park school network on the South Side has 24 schools at risk, the highest of any network in the city. Following in a close second is the Englewood-Gresham network with 19 schools on the potential closure list.
* The list includes three special education schools-Near North in West Town, Montefiore in Little Italy, and Buckingham in Calumet Heights.
* According to the Chicagoist, opponents are speaking out on the school closures, specifically that schools need to be utilized better instead of the district focusing on turnaround rates and charter schools.
* Parents have expressed concern that closing schools will also close safe havens for children in the community.
* An open neighborhood meeting was held at the House of Prayer Church of God on Wednesday night to discuss possible closures in the Austin-North Lawndale network, which has 16 schools on the list.
* Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) spoke out at the meeting and emphasized that children in his district deserve the same quality of education that children in wealthier districts have.
* The district has maintained its position that closing underutilized schools will help balance a $1 billion deficit for the next school year.
* CPS estimates that each school closed would save between $500,000 and $800,000.
* There are approximately 403,000 students enrolled, but the district has enough space for 511,000 students.
* In addition, 35 members of the Chicago City Council have pledged support for a moratorium on creating new charter schools.
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.
- Chicago Public Schools