CPS CEO Seeks Delay in School Closings Report

Barbara Bennett-Byrd wants extension until March 31

By Marcus Riley and Emily Florez
|  Friday, Nov 2, 2012  |  Updated 10:35 PM CDT
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Barbara Byrd-Bennett wants to wait until March 31 to release the list, but the extension would first need state legislature approval. Emily Florez reports.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett wants to wait until March 31 to release the list, but the extension would first need state legislature approval. Emily Florez reports.

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It may take a little longer to find out which Chicago Public Schools will be closing its doors.

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is seeking an extension on the December 1 deadline to provide a list of schools that will close. She wants to wait until March 31 to release the list, but the extension would first need state legislature approval.

"Our resources are stretched much too thin," she said during an appearance before the Chicago Urban League.

Byrd-Bennett said she plans to launch a "rigorous, transparent and open dialogue with school communities" in the coming months to help the district "make more informed decisions around school actions and better invest resources that will help kids access a high-quality education."

A nine-member Commission on School Utilization would lead the engagement effort.

"[The extension] gives us the time we need to rigorously and respectfully engage our communities in those authentic conversations," Byrd-Bennett said Friday, adding that an extension would mean no interruption to Illinois Standard Achievement Testing.

Teachers have been worried the district is secretly planning to close up to 100 schools in an effort to save money, and the issue is shaping up as the next big fight with the Chicago Teacher's Union.

Late Friday, the union responded to the extension request with disapproval.

"We appreciate the CEO recognizes the CPS' process around school closings is extraordinarily flawed," the CTU said in a statement, adding that the only announcement that should be made is a complete moratorium on school closings.

Thousands of teachers in the nation's third-largest school district walked off the job on Sept. 10 after more than a year of slow, contentious negotiations over salary, health benefits and job security.

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