View Full Version : Public Schools CPS to close 61 buildings, affecting 30,000 kids

03-22-2013, 11:10 AM
From Chicago Tribune (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-school-closings-0322-20130322,0,2322405,full.story) by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah:

With Chicago Public Schools facing a financial meltdown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration on Thursday targeted 61 school buildings for closing, unleashing a torrent of criticism from anxious parents, children and teachers as well as aldermen.

Officials said the shutdowns would affect 30,000 students, almost all in kindergarten through eighth grade and most now attending poorly performing schools in African-American neighborhoods on the South and West sides where enrollment has sagged in recent years.

Prodded by Emanuel, officials have been working for months to downsize the facility footprint of the district, which they say faces a $1 billion projected deficit next year. "We have resources that are spread much too thin," said Todd Babbitz, the district's chief transformation officer.

Savings from closing schools, though, won't kick in immediately. Officials estimate school upgrades and enhanced security and other transition costs will add $233 million to expenses in the short term, most of it paid for through bond debt at a time when the district's credit rating has dropped. Some of the increased costs will also be covered by staff cuts from schools that close.

Over the next decade, however, CPS projects savings of $560 million from the closings.

But for many parents and children, Thursday's announcement means only that they're being displaced from familiar neighborhood schools and will face in some cases longer and scarier walks to class over busy streets that crisscross competing gang territories.

Outside Overton Elementary in the Bronzeville neighborhood, Jayshawn Vinson, 10, said he was both sad and scared to learn that next year he will be moving to Mollison Elementary, a walk of nearly a mile from his old school, and on busy Martin Luther King Drive.

"People there may be fighting," said the fourth-grader. "They may be shooting. I don't know what will happen in the neighborhood."

The math behind the shutdown announcement is confusing, but it breaks down this way: The district plans to close 52 elementary schools at the end of this school year and another, Attucks in the Grand Boulevard neighborhood, over two years. Another school will lose its high school program.

Separately, 11 facilities were targeted for what in educator-speak is called "co-locations," essentially existing schools put under one roof. Some, but not all, will involve shutting buildings.

In addition, six more poorly performing schools were designated as so-called "turnarounds" where the buildings remain open but the faculty and staff are replaced en masse.

Pressed to hit the total button on the number of facility closings, officials pegged it at 61. That comes to nearly 13 percent of all elementary and middle schools in the district.

read more>> (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-school-closings-0322-20130322,0,2322405,full.story)