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CPS wants more time to name closing schools

November 2, 2012 3:06:00 PM PDT
New Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is making her first big move towards changing the system. But first, she says, she needs more time.

Byrd-Bennett announced Friday that CPS plans to ask the state legislature for an extension on the December 1st deadline until to release the names of the schools that will be closed. And a new nine-member commission, which includes former Chicago police superintendent Terry Hillard and former ComEd chairman and CEO Frank Clark, has been appointed to gather community feedback.

"I would hope that the fact that we have the commission and we're going to be reaching deeply into various communities that we would mitigate some of that-- but I anticipate it's painful. It's not a happy time," said Byrd-Bennett.

According to CPS, 140 schools are more than half empty. In order to figure out which schools will close and which will need to consolidate, CPS wants to ask for the community's opinions and make informed decisions by March 31, 2013 based on the numbers.

But members of the Chicago teachers union say they have had enough. They rallied Friday afternoon with parents and community organizations at City Hall to make their voices heard.

"They should be lowering the amount of kids in the classroom. You have 32. There would be no need to close the schools," said Windy Pearson, Action Now member.

Parents like Mirinda Williams believe change is exactly what the district needs. Her children attend Piccolo school, which was one of the turnaround schools. The formerly failing school has a new staff, new teachers and passing students.

"It's quiet, there is orderly fashion," she said.

Principal Lori Campbell says they hit the reset button on the school and have managed a zero-tolerance policy towards violence and tardiness and they are hoping to reach a 96-percent attendance rate this year.

Byrd-Bennett says the decision to close schools must happen as CPS faces a one billion dollar deficit by this summer.


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