CPS School-Closing List: 129 Schools Still on the Bubble
CHICAGO — Of the 330 schools originally flagged for possible closure, 201 have been taken off the chopping block, but 129 remain under consideration for closing.
Schools that aren't on the list released Wednesday evening could still be subject to "possible other types types of action, like co-location, or being a receiving school, or something of that nature," Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler told DNAinfo.com Chicago.
The list isn't final, and will remain under consideration until the remaining 14 community meetings have been conducted. It's been significantly trimmed since CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett first revealed which schools were at risk of action.
Here is the list of the remaining 129 schools, broken down by region of the city:
AUSTIN-NORTH LAWNDALE AREA
BURNHAM PARK AREA
Dumas Tech Academy
LAKE CALUMET AREA
PILSEN-LITTLE VILLAGE AREA
ROCK ISLAND AREA
The number of schools facing a possible closure recommendation in the Austin-North Lawndale neighborhood was reduced from 38 to 16. In Fullerton, 14 possible schools were narrowed down to only three. Burnham Park's list was nearly halved, from 44 to 24, as was Garfield-Humboldt Park, from 32 schools to 14.
Significant reprieves were granted to schools in Ravenswood-Ridge, narrowed from 15 potential closures down to four, and at Midway, where 10 schools were dropped from the list, leaving only Claremont.
In Fulton 12, schools remain under consideration for closure, down from 30. Lake Calumet saw the number of schools facing closure dropped from 20 to 10, and Pershing's list was also halved from 14 to seven.
Rock Island has six schools still on the chopping block, down from 21, and in Skyway, the list was dramatically cut from 36 down to 10.
Three of the schools in Pilsen-Little Village could still get a closure recommendation, down from 10 originally being considered. No schools in the O'Hare area will be closed.
In late 2011, CPS published its Space Utilization Standard, as required by an August 2011 public act signed by Gov. Pat Quinn. The report outlined standards used to assess whether individual schools' enrollment was too high, too low, or being distributed inefficiently.
Shortly after she was appointed head of Chicago's public school system in October, Byrd-Bennett secured a deadline extension, and later released her own closure guidelines, drawing heavily on the December 2011 CPS utilization model.
CPS fed the most recent school data through those parameters, and in early December released a preliminary list spotlighting schools that could be eligible for some action based on enrollment imbalances.
There were 330 schools flagged on that list citywide, and a disproportionate number were concentrated on the city's South and West sides. The South Side alone housed 86 percent of the underutilized schools in Chicago.
This prompted criticism from parents, community activists and some teachers. Advocacy groups called for independent probes into closure decisions, and earlier this week, education organizer Jitu Brown called the closures "a civil rights violation."
At public hearings 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 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.
Last month, the Commission on School Utilization concluded that closing high schools could increase the risk of violence for students integrated with different neighborhoods, and narrowed the district's focus to closing, consolodating and reassigning students at elementary schools exclusively.
According to CPS, there are about 403,500 students enrolled this year, and the school system has space for 500,000. District officials say this is evidence that students and resources need to be reallocated.
The district is currently facing a projected $400 million budget deficit.
This batch of closures likely will be the last until 2020, in light of Byrd-Bennett's request for a five year moratorium on closures — starting next year.
On Wednesday, a resolution to put charter school expansion on hold for the 2014-2015 school year sponsored by 35 aldermen was introduced to City Council's Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics.