129 'underutilized' CPS schools 'under consideration' for closing, parents react

February 13, 2013 9:09:34 PM PST
The latest list of Chicago schools that could be closed was released Wednesday. It is a hot-button issue with many Chicago parents.

There were 330 schools "under consideration" for closure. That number has been dwindled down to 129. The schools that were spared include all high schools and Level 1 schools, which are higher performing schools.

CPS says it will continue to gather feedback before making final recommendations March 31.

The proposed closings have been met with much opposition.

CPS officials were shouted down at a community meeting in the Austin-West Lawndale neighborhood Wednesday night.

Hundreds of parents, students, teachers and community members came out for a forum on the school closings.

"You are taking away from my kids, from our community. Our kids need their schools," parent Janice Thompson said.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says, because so much money is being spent on under-enrolled schools, shutting schools down is inevitable. However, she refused to give a ballpark on how many will make the final list.

"The fact that we've moved from 330 to 129 schools says to me the process is working," said Bennett. "The next iteration, what will that process yield? I don't have that crystal ball, I don't know...we will then land and we'll take a look at that number and see what and how we can handle that through the transition process that's in place."

Bennett promises that students who attend schools on the final list will be moved to higher performing schools and, she says, safe passage will be guaranteed as well.

The subject of school closings is a sore one with the teachers union and many parents. The CTU has called for a moratorium on school closings because, it says, CPS is closing neighborhood schools in order to make room for more charters.

"Any school that we close, one, we're considering first and foremost the safety of the young people there," said Bennett. "Secondly, that those students moving from school A to school B, school B will be a school that is higher performing. We want our children to have a greater and better opportunity to access to a high-quality education."

CPS students will be less safe if more schools close, according to CPS teacher Tamara Noel.

"It's going to be more robbing. It's going to be more killing," Noel said. "It's going to be a mess. You all think it's bad now, close our schools and it's going to get terrible."

Wednesday at City Hall, over 30 aldermen signed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools during the 2014-15 school year. Bennett would not comment on the resolution, saying she had not yet seen it.