CPS School-Closing List to Be Released Wednesday

By Kyla Gardner and Lizzie Schiffman Tufano  on February 12, 2013 5:39pm  | Updated on February 13, 2013 10:27am

 Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said CPS can't afford to keep underutilized schools open.
Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said CPS can't afford to keep underutilized schools open.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CHICAGO — A short list of Chicago Public Schools still considered for closure will be released Wednesday around 5:30 p.m., a CPS spokeswoman said.

The list is significantly pared down from the 330 underutilized and 80 overcrowded elementary schools flagged in CPS' December assessment, as CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced Jan. 18 that high schools will not be considered for closure.

A final list will be released by the end of next month.

CPS said it has to close schools to address a budget deficit projected at $400 million, and will focus on underutilized schools that require too many resources.

At public hearings held across the city to gather community feedback in recent weeks, crowds grew rowdy, police were sometimes called, and reporters were barred from sessions.

At meeting Monday night on the Near West Side, one activist said school closing proposals are motivated by race and income.

"What communities are being affected by these decisions to close the schools? Is it not the communities of color?” community activist Joel Rodriguez said to the crowd of nearly 400. “Seems like some sick form of 'Hunger Games.' "

Police barricaded doors when hundreds of concerned parents, students and teachers clamored to get into a meeting of nearly 1,000 people in Little Village last week.

In Uptown, members of the crowd chanted over speakers from nearby elementary schools.

As one official tried to outline the district's vision, someone shouted, "Do you believe him?" "No!" the crowd answered.

In Fuller Park, a community organizer delivered a fiery speech to tell CPS officials "You won’t close down any of our schools without a fight.”

The statements prompted chants and cheering from the standing-room-only crowd.

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