CHICAGO — Some Chicago Public Schools slated to close this fall as part of the largest school consolidation in U.S. history could get a last-minute reprieve, sources told DNAinfo.com Chicago.
"The scope of the school consolidation plan could change next week, and that could include taking some schools slated for closure off the list," a source said.
Talk about making changes to the school closing proposal before the final vote on Wednesday started after Board of Education members reviewed public hearing testimony and the recommendations of independent hearing officers, who earlier this month recommended that CPS keep open about a dozen of the 54 schools slated for closure, sources said.
It’s unclear how many schools would be taken off the list.
The hearing officers — a group of retired judges who heard final pleas from parents, teachers and students last month — found that CPS failed to meet legal requirements and didn’t have adequate safety plans for closing the schools.
After the hearing officers' reports were released, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he took the decision seriously but planned to push ahead with school closures to improve the education of kids in failing schools.
"This is a very difficult issue, but it's really difficult leaving a kid in a school that’s failing," the mayor said at the time.
Late Friday, a CPS spokeswoman declined comment and a spokesman for Emanuel’s office couldn’t be reached immediately.
News of the board's possible change of heart came on the same day Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis — a bitter Emanuel foe who led the teachers on a seven-day strike last year — won re-election.
Lewis said she's not surprised some schools will be removed from the closure list.
"Clearly there were schools that need to come off the list and there's still some more," she said. "I hope to continue to look at those schools."
On Saturday, the teachers union is set to begin the first leg of three days of protest marches against the school closings.
Lewis said that if Emanuel thought that news that a few schools might be kept open would take the wind out of her sails, he's wrong.
"The mayor had a really tough week. His poll numbers were in the toilet. There were sit-ins all over the city. [Cook County President] Toni Preckwinkle took a slap at him," she said. "Take the wind out of my sails over 13 schools, no way. He had a tough week and he's going to have another tough week."