Report: Don't Close CPS High Schools
By Kiratiana Freelon on January 10, 2013 5:45pm
CHICAGO — The commission created to help decide how Chicago Public Schools are consolidated said no high schools should be closed.
In a report released Thursday, the Commission on School Utilization said closing high schools could increase the risk of violence for students mixing with those from different neighborhoods.
"[W]ith gang boundaries sometimes shifting on an almost weekly basis, and barring extreme circumstances, it is simply too risky to ask high-school-age kids to cross gang lines just to travel to and from school," the report said.
The commission also recommended no Level 1, or high-performing, schools be considered for closure.
The commission, made of up eight private citizens, clergy and politicians, was created by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in the wake of the controversy over proposals to close underutilized schools. The commission met with community members, school staff, researchers and Chicago Teachers Union leaders to arrive at its initial recommendations.
In the report, the group also recommended that CPS not close any underutilized school in the process of adding grades nor close or consolidate underutilized schools with more than 600 students.
Byrd-Bennett said she would give the recommendations a "thoughtful review.
"This work is far from over and we must continue to engage the community and give them the respect they deserve during this process over the next several weeks," she said in a statement.
The Chicago Teachers Union called the recommendations "too little and too late" in a statement.
Union president Karen Lewis repeated the claim that the schools most likely to close sit in largely African-American neighborhoods.
"It is clear certain neighborhoods are the primary targets of CPS school actions. School closings exacerbate the problems of foreclosures, joblessness and violence. We are troubled that this report still lacks a clear safety plan and given the spike in violent crime in Chicago this is extremely problematic," she said.