Quinn Signs Bill Extending School Closure Deadline

By Serena Dai on December 1, 2012 10:43am 

 Barbara Byrd-Bennett addresses the media after being introduced by Mayor Emanuel (background) as head of the Chicago Public Schools on Oct. 12, 2012.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett addresses the media after being introduced by Mayor Emanuel (background) as head of the Chicago Public Schools on Oct. 12, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CHICAGO —Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Friday giving Chicago Public Schools an extra four months to decide on school closures in the city.

The list of school closures for the 2013-2014 school year was supposed to be released Saturday, but new CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett pushed for an extension to give the district more time to "properly engage the community" about potential closures, CPS said in a statement.

Byrd-Bennett, who replaced fromer CPS Chief Jean-Claude Brizard in October, told reporters Monday that she felt she "did not have enough time to hear from the community" about school actions. She also vowed to enact a five-year moratorium on closings if the state legislature gave her more time to come up with the 2013-2014 closures list.

"Difficult decisions will still need to be made, but we will be able to make them with the community, not dictate them to the community," she said in a statement.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and with an overwhelming majority in the House before Quinn signed it. CPS said it will focus on maximizing current space, according to 2013 guidelines.

Groups such as Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), who usually oppose school closings, think the moratorium promise from CPS and the delay in releasing the closures list means trouble for the 2013-2014 school year.

"The fact they're suggesting a moratorium after this year suggests they might close more schools than they otherwise may have done because it's their last chance," Julie Woestehoff of PURE told the Tribune. "That's a recipe for chaos."

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