CHICAGO — Fifty-four schools would be closed under a proposal released by Chicago Public Schools Thursday.
Six schools would be placed on turnaround status, and 11 schools would be merged, some of them with charter schools. In all, 61 buildings would be closed, which includes campuses that have more than one building. In all, 30,000 students and at least 1,000 teachers would be affected.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett defended the move to close what she called “underutilized, under-resourced schools.”
“This is needed,” she said on WVON-AM 1690, as CPS officials held a conference call with reporters. There will be a five-year moratorium on school closures after this plan is implemented, and none of the closed buildings will be used to house charter schools, Byrd-Bennett said.
The list is not final: Two more community meetings are planned for each proposed closure or co-location, as well as a meeting with a hearing officer. Then the Chicago Board of Education will vote on the proposal.
CPS said the closures would save $560 million over 10 years, as well as annual savings of $43 million. CPS now faces a budget deficit of $1 billion, said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll. It will cost $233 million to complete the process, CPS said.
CPS welcoming schools are no more than a mile away from schools slated for closure, it said.
"We heard repeatedly, 'We don't want our students shipped all over the city,' and we agree," said Adam Anderson, CPS officer of portfolio, planning and strategy.
Staff members at the targeted schools expressed anger at the news, which came after two months of community meetings.
“All of the staff, we don't know what's gonna happen," said Maria Cifuentes, a clerk at Near North Elementary School, 729 N. Ada. "Well, we do: They already told us — we don't have a job.
Tenured teachers who have high performance ratings will keep their jobs, said Alicia Winkler, CPS chief talent officer. Those who are losing their jobs will be retained through Oct. 31, she said, adding that CPS will provide "job search support."
Hardest hit were schools on the South and West sides.
Flanked by fellow union leaders, aldermen, clergymen and children, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the school closings an "abomination."
Lewis held a rally at Mahaila Jackson Elementary School, 917 W. 88th St., one of the 54 schools CPS has decided to shutter. Lewis and others said claims that schools like Jackson are underutilized are false.
They also said claims that closures will enable CPS to provide air conditioning, more libraries and even iPads to students were "all rhetoric" and "spin."
"This will not save money. It's going to cost money, and it's going to leave abandoned buildings, which are another recipe for disaster," she said.
Lewis lashed out at Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was out of town on a family vacation.
"This is cowardly and it's the ultimate bullying job. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, you should be ashamed of yourself," Lewis said.
The following schools are on the final Chicago Public Schools list of schools to be closed:
Phase out Attucks over 2 years, close into Beethoven fall 2015
Close Banneker into Mays, move into Banneker building (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Bethune into Gregory (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Bontemps into Nicholson
Close Calhoun North into Cather
Close Canter Middle School into Harte and Ray
Close De Duprey and Von Humboldt into De Diego (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Delano into Melody, move into Delano building
Close Dumas into Wadsworth, move into Dumas building
Close Emmet into Ellington and DePriest
Close Ericson into Sumner
Close Fermi into South Shore Fine Arts
Close Garfield Park into Faraday
Close Garvey into Mount Vernon
Close Goldblatt into Hefferan
Close Goodlow School into Earle, move into Goodlow building (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Henson into C. Hughes
Close Herbert into Dett, move into Herbert building (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Key into Ellington
Close King into Jensen
Close Kohn into Cullen, Lavizzo, and L. Hughes
Close Lafayette into Chopin (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Lawrence into Burnham, move into Lawrence building
Close Jackson, into Fort Dearborn (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Manierre into Jenner (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Marconi into Tilton
Close Mayo into Wells, move into Mayo building (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Morgan into Ryder (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Overton into Mollison
Close Owens into Gompers
Close Paderewski into Cardenas and Castellanos
Close Parkman into Sherwood (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Peabody into Otis (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Pershing West into Pershing East, move into Pershing West building
Close Pope into Johnson
Close Ross into Dulles
Close Ryerson into Ward, move into Ryerson building (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Sexton into Fiske, move into Sexton building
Close Songhai into Curtis
Close Stewart into Brennemann (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Stockton into Courtenay, move into Stockton building (Read more about this closing here and here.)
Close Trumbull into Chappell, McPherson, and McCutcheon (Read more about this closing here.)
Close West Pullman into Haley
Close Williams ES and Williams MS into Drake, move into Williams building; co-locate
with Urban Prep
Close Woods into Bass
Close Yale into Harvard (Read more about this closing here.)
Close Near North and Buckingham into Montefiore (Read more about this closing here.)
Mason moves from K-11 to K-8, program closure only
Richard T. Crane Medical Prep HS with Chicago Talent Development HS and Richard T. Crane Technical Prep HS
Noble-Comer with Revere ES
New Noble HS with Bowen HS
Montessori Charter of Englewood with O’Toole
Kwame Nkrumah Charter with Gresham
New KIPP with Hope HS
Disney II expansion with Marshall Middle
Belmont Cragin K-8 with Northwest Middle (Belmont Cragin pre-K program remains in current location)
New Noble HS with Corliss HS
Dodge with Morton
Drake with Urban Prep Academy for Young Men – Bronzeville
CPS earlier this month announced a safety plan for students transitioning to new schools, which includes an expansion of the Safe Passage program. CPS declined to close high schools, citing the possibility of violence associated with students from different neighborhoods mixing. Schools that were successfully turned around at the end of the 2011-12 school year were also exempt from closure, officials said.
The plan would add Science Technology Engineering and Math, International Baccalaureate and Fine Arts schools at 19 schools on the South and West sides. Byrd-Bennett said each new welcoming school would have a library, air conditioning and expanded technological capabilities, such as new computer labs and expanded Internet bandwidth. She said children in grades three through eight would get iPads.