Chicago Public Schools (CPS) should close or consolidate a maximum of 80 schools this year, according to the final recommendations of the Commission on School Utilization. The number includes all school actions, including turnarounds.
and foremost,” the commission wrote, “is that closing an underutilized
school should be considered only if its students can transfer safely to a
CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett has a deadline of March 31 to announce the final list of school actions.
independent commission also encouraged Byrd-Bennett to look at the various aspects of school closures, encouraging the schools chief to review community
involvement and the number of students with disabilities that each school serves before she announces the
final list of schools on the chopping block.
The report also urged
Byrd-Bennett to close the schools in one year or over two years time and to “spend the money to do it right.”
The Chicago Teachers Union says the recommendations illustrate the need for a moratorium on school closures and other actions.
“The Commission’s report suggests that CPS should continue with its intent to destabilize thousands of our students by disrupting 80-plus school communities in a single year. This is outrageous,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Given CPS’ history, there is no way it has the capacity to shut down 13 percent of our entire school district without mass chaos. Every school that is closed impacts another in the broader community. That’s one more child exposed to Chicago’s rising tide of violence.
“These non-binding recommendations do not address CPS’ unsubstantiated claim that school closings saves money. In reality, school closings costs taxpayer more and the city is left with abandoned buildings. CPS continues to move the target to justify why it should close rather than support our schools. These public policy measures hurt our students, put people out of work and destabilize neighborhoods. In the meantime, they want to open new charters,” she added.
commission was established Byrd-Bennett to assist in her evaluation of
which schools to close. Following the commission’s recommendation that
high schools and high performing schools should not be shuttered, a list
of 129 schools that may be slated for closure was issued last month.