Calling for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to provide its 10-year
master plan before shuttering any schools, legislators in the Illinois
General Assembly’s black and Latino caucuses called for a moratorium on school closings for the 2013-2014 school year Monday.
not gonna sit back and say, ‘OK, Mayor Rahm Emanuel do what you want to
do, how you want to do it, when you want to do it at our expense. It’s
OK with us, buddy.’ Not on this issue. Not on our watch,” said State
Rep. Ken Dunkin (D-Chicago), chairman of the Illinois General Assembly’s
Black Caucus, to the Chicago Sun-Times.
the moratorium request a “soft approach” to school closures. “The mayor
and his team, it would behoove them to work with us,” he said.
CPS is ordered by the state to draft its master facilities 10-year plan by May.
a $1 billion budget deficit, CPS is targeting underutilized schools for
its next wave of school closures, with the hopes of eliminating roughly 100,000 empty
seats. Nearly 140 schools are more than half empty, according to the
district. The school system has classroom space for more than 500,000
students, but just over 400,000 students are enrolled.
Carroll, chief communications officer for CPS, told the newspaper the
10-year plan would not address the “utilization crisis.”
10-year plan is . . . setting up a vision; it’s goal-setting around
facilities in our district,” Carroll said. “It has nothing to do with
addressing the fact that our schools are severely underutilized. . . .
The steps we’re taking now is to right-size the district because we have
hundreds of partly empty, dilapidated buildings that are under-sourced
and not providing our children with the quality education they need. So
what we’re trying to do is adjust our footprint so it better reflects
the actual enrollment in our schools today.”
CPS CEO Barbara
Byrd-Bennett said in statement released Monday, “We can’t afford to put
off these difficult decisions any longer, as it will be our city’s
future and our children who will pay the price for our inaction.”
Byrd-Bennett has a deadline of March 31 to announce the final list of school actions, following a recommendation by the Commission on School Utilization to close a maximum of 80 schools.
State Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), chairwoman of the General
Assembly’s Latino Caucus, said CPS needs to offer a full picture of where its headed before any schools get closed. The legislators want the district to consider new housing developments that are being erected, its own plans for development, and gang boundaries; adding that schools located near areas with a high gang presence should remain open.
10-year facilities master plan is necessary to fully understand the
past, the current, [the] future state that we have . . . a clear picture
of where we are and where we need to go,” she said.