On CPS School Closings, Barbara Byrd-Bennett Asks Public to Remain Engaged

By DNAinfo Staff on February 18, 2013 3:28pm

  Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is asking the public to stay involved in school-closing process.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is asking the public to stay involved in school-closing process.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CHICAGO — As Chicago Public Schools officials zero in on the final list of schools to close this year, schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says public engagement is essential at upcoming meetings around the city.

“I need as much feedback as possible to inform my decisions and my ultimate recommendations to the Board of Education," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "Every voice matters in ensuring a high-quality, well-rounded education for every student in every neighborhood.”

Last week, the district released a list of 129 schools, about a fifth of all the district's schools, that might be on the final chopping block when the final list is announced at the end of March.

The district says more than 10,500 community members have come to meetings since January addressing how the district will decide which schools to close.

Last month, the Commission on School Utilization concluded that closing high schools could increase the risk of violence for students moved into different neighborhoods, and narrowed the district's focus to closing, consolidating and reassigning students at elementary schools exclusively.

According to CPS, the school system has 403,500 students enrolled this year, but space for 500,000, which district officials say 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 would be the last until 2020, in light of Byrd-Bennett's request for a five-year moratorium on closures starting next year.

Meetings are scheduled this week at:

  • 7 p.m. Monday for the Englewood/Gresham School Network at AFC Center, 7859 S. Ashland Ave.
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday for the Burnham Park Network at St. Anselm Church, 6045 S. Michigan Ave.
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday for the Skyway Network at South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 South Shore Drive.
  • 7 p.m. Thursday for the Pershing Network at the Fuller Park Fieldhouse, 331 W. 45th St.
  • 11 a.m. Saturday for the O’Hare Network at Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Ave.