CPS Board Approves New Charter Schools

Opponents fear new schools will lead to closure of traditional schools

The Chicago Board of Education approved new charter schools and expanded programs at several existing schools Wednesday, much to the chagrin of the Chicago Teacher's Union.

The new schools will go into effect at the beginning of the 2013 school year, although the locations have not been determined, according to Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

The CTU and the Stand Up Chicago organization gathered at CPS headquarters Wednesday to protest the rise of charter schools for fear it will lead to the closure of more public schools.

"If you're saying you're closing our schools down because there's not enough students to fill the seats, why are you creating more seats? It just doesn't make sense," teacher Kristine Mayle said.

The opponents' fears were fueled by a Chicago Tribune report showing a detailed internal document laying out multiple scenarios for closing neighborhood schools and opening charter schools, targeting as many as 95 facilities, mostly elementary schools on the South and West sides.

The document estimates closures could save up to $675 million over 10 years.

But before Wednesday's meeting, Byrd-Bennett stressed there is no plan in place to close schools.

"There is currently no list of schools. Based on the commission's recommendations, I will bring to this board a list of recommendations. It will not occur until after the community has given their input," Byrd-Bennett said.

Even more charter schools could be implemented next school year. Votes on proposals for two additional charter schools were deferred so that Byrd-Bennett could get additional time to review them.

The approved schools and programs include:

  • Chicago Collegiate Charter School
  • A new Chicago Collegiate Charter School and Intrinsic School
  • Magnet Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School (RTC), designed to prepare students for careers or post-secondary education in health sciences.
  • A new Back of the Yards International Baccalaureate (IB) High School.
  • Frazier Preparatory Academy, a contract-to-charter conversion.
  • The addition of an IB programme at Clemente High School.
  • Expansion of IB programs at Senn, Hyde Park, Taft and Lincoln Park high schools.
  • Two additional CTE programs at Jones College Preparatory High School.
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