Quick Hit Aricka Flowers Wednesday October 2nd, 2013, 5:15pm

CPS Opens Door For More School Closures

Following the decision to embark on the nation's largest round of school closures at one time this academic year, the Chicago Public Schools have opened the door to the possibility of breaking the district's promised five-year moratorium on school closings. As required by the Illinois School Code, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett released a set of guidelines for school actions, which are required by law no later than October 1. The full set of proposed actions for the upcoming school year are due by December 1.

In the proposed set of guidelines released by the district, CPS is hoping to quicken the closure of schools that are already in the process of being phased out. The district also wants to the ability to shutter schools that pose a "safety hazard presented by the physical condition of the" building. The same criteria could be used to propose consolidations and phase-outs.

The district says the five-year moratorium on school closings that Byrd-Bennett promised last year in exchange for a four-month extension on announcing school actions for the current academic year only applied to closures related to academic performance and utilization.

“The two criteria used over the last 10 years are off the table for the next five years,” CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll told the Chicago Sun-Times.  

The district may also opt to consolidate, or co-locate, two or more schools if the projected enrollment of the combined schools meets CPS space utilization standards and the welcoming school can support the academic needs of all of the students affected, according to the guidelines. 

"In determining whether to propose a co-location, the CEO may consider other information, including, but not limited to: safety and security, school culture and climate, school leadership, quality of the facility, and an analysis of transition costs," according to the newly-drafted guidelines.

The Chicago Teachers Union sees the latest guidelines, which can be viewed here, as a breach of the district CEO's original promise to place a “moratorium on all CPS facility closures for the next five years.” As a result, the teachers union is continuing their call for an elected school board in this statement released in response to the new guidelines:

Once again, CPS demonstrates it cannot be trusted to tell the truth about its future plans for our school district. Their decision to modify their promise of a 5-year moratorium on school closings is a smack in the face to the parents, teachers and students who are working so hard to secure vital resources for their neighborhood schools. If there was ever any doubt that the Mayor and his hand-picked team are committed to the destruction of neighborhood schools, there isn’t now.

Their plan is obvious: Save money by closing African American and Latino schools, or substitute with charters, and then dump the savings into selective enrollment to cater to the downtown crowd and the new white collar corporate types the mayor seeks to gratify while he ‘accelerates’ the market in places like Englewood with Whole Foods to hasten displacement and gentrification. When will CPS’s reign of error end?

We need an elected representative school board.

The guidelines are open to public feedback from now through October 21. The district will accept public feedback via mail, email, a web survey, or a tele-townhall meeting. Click through for additional details on how provide feedback on the guidelines.

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Chicago government fails time after time and makes it look like success. Educating children is its responsibility. Controlling street shootings is its responsibility. The failure to do these two things compound one another. The CPS is setting the stage for further blood baths among our precious youth on the South Side by refusing to educate them now. By corporatizing education the CPS can semantically turn failure into "success." This failure sets the stage for mayhem as the future of our South- and West-Side youth. What criminals these politicians are!

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