CHICAGO — A Reuters news service look at the 49 schools closed in Chicago in a cost-cutting move in 2013 finds that most are still empty and costing the city more than $3 million a year for utilities, security and other maintenance.
Some 38 schools are still empty. Sales are pending at two unnamed schools and requests for proposals have gone out for three others. CPS says it avoided $430 million in capital costs on the closed buildings by shutting them.
At the time of the closings, CPS said the closures would save some $40 million annually.
CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey tells Reuters' reporter Mary Wisniewski: "We knew this would take some time and we wanted the community to express their wishes."
Earlier this year, parents of former students at Overton Elementary School, at 221 E. 49th St. in Bronzeville, protested a reported sale of the building. The U.S. Education Department said in March it was investigating whether the students' civil rights were violated when the school was shut and the children moved to another school.
At the time CPS reportedly was seeking bids to turn the school into a rec center, housing, a technology hub or other use.
"CPS is committed to community process that repurposes each former school site in a way that meets the wishes of the surrounding neighborhood," a CPS spokesman told DNAinfo Chicago at the time.
Reuters reports that some of the closed schools have become targets of vandals, including Yale Elementary, 7025 S. Princeton Ave., in Englewood.
The wire service quotes a Pew Trust study that finds empty school buildings have been a difficult sell in some other big cities. Early projected revenue from sales are often overly optimistic, the study says, recommending districts "move quickly" to sell the buildings after they are closed.
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