Report Says CPS Could Close, Consolidate 80 Schools

CPS CEO: "Report definitively states that the District does, in fact, have a utilization problem"

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    Chicago Public Schools may close up to 80 schools by next school year.

    A commission assembled to study school closings stated in its final report, released Wednesday, that the CPS, "has the capacity to consolidate approximately 80 schools."

    "Their report definitively states that the District does, in fact, have a utilization problem," said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett after the release of the report. "We did not get here overnight, and we are not going to fix everything overnight. But our children deserve for us to work every day to improve their chances to succeed."

    In response, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the 80 number "arbitrary" and said it "further illustrates the need for a full moratorium on school closings, turnarounds and other actions."

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    Some parents and school officials also say the schools listed on those considered for closure and consolidation come from predominantly black neighborhoods on the city's south and west sides.

    "This is outrageous, said Lewis. "Given CPS’ history, there is no way it has the capacity to shut down 13 percent of our entire school district without mass chaos."

    In addition to closures, CPS may take other action in consolidating schools, including turnarounds and co-locations in which poorly performing schools will have their staff overhauled or be joined with neighboring schools.

    Byrd-Bennett picked the commission as an advisory committee, and its recommendation of 80 school closings shouldn’t be seen as inflexible.

    CPS will be working from the preliminary list of 129 schools that could be closed. The district initially identified 330 schools that were not being used to their full potential, but removed 201 schools last month based on criteria set by the CPS.

    A final list of schools the district intends to close is due by the end of the month.