CPS to close 4 Englewood schools, convert South Loop elementary to HS

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, March 1, 2018
CPS board votes to close 4 Englewood schools
The Chicago School Board voted to close four schools and the NTA.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to close four Englewood high schools and convert a South Loop elementary into a new high school.

Before the vote, dozens of people gave emotional opposition to the closure.

All the schools slated for closure have been labeled either under-enrolled, under-performing or both. These are the first closures since 2013 and will primarily affect African American students.

The current plan shutters Harper, Hope, and Team Englewood high schools after current freshman graduate. Robeson High School will close this summer to make way for a new $85 million dollar Englewood High School, which would open in 2019.

"I firmly believe the plan we're putting forth today is the best plan," said CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

The vote sparked protests by community activists and some students staged a sit-in in the lobby of CPS's downtown headquarters after railing against the plan at the Wednesday morning regularly scheduled board meeting.

"I feel like you don't see what we see. If you were in our position you would know what was going on," said NTA student Taylor Wallace.

"Where do they get this information that we've agreed to this? Tearing down our neighborhood, not investing in our school, disrupting our children," said Bobbie Brown, the chairperson of Harper High School's LSC.

Chicago Teachers Union members said the enire plan should be scrapped.

"Building a new school, that is the bait and switch. That's to make this look like a benevolent pro-community policy," said Jesse Sharkey, of the Chicago Teachers Union.

In the South Loop, the CPS decision would close the National Teachers Academy (NTA), an elementary school, and convert it into a neighborhood high school. The plan would consolidate the NTA and South Loop Elementary School.

"When you try to take away NTA, it's like you're trying to take away a family," said Devon Collins, an NTA student.

Parents and students vowed to continue to fight.

"It is idiotic that we even discuss about the proposal. I call a halt to closure," said Aiko Hibino, of Save Chicago Public Schools Coalition.

The union did file a grievance against CPS regarding the conversion of NTA from an elementary school to a high school, saying it violates their labor contract. Some school groups, along with parents, said they're considering filing a lawsuit over the issue.