Hearing Officers Oppose 14 Chicago School Closings: Report

Independent hearing officers reportedly have opposed 14 of the 54 schools closings Chicago Public Schools has proposed to consolidate underutilized facilities.

The officers cited "safety concerns and the district's failure to show students would be going to better schools," according to the Chicago Tribune.

The school board is expected to vote on the closings May 22. The independent officers questioned the following middle school or elementary school closings, the Tribune reports: Calhoun, Delano, Mahalia Jackson, King, Manierre, Mayo, Morgan, Overton, Stewart, Stockton, Williams Elementary and Williams Middle school, Near North and Buckingham.

One officer said Overton "is among the lowest performing schools in the district, as is Mollison, where Overton students would be headed in the fall."

Hundreds of students, teachers and members of the Chicago Teachers Union have rallied against the proposed closings, announced in March. The CTU has said a single school closure is one too many and 50 or more would be catastrophic for the district.

"This city cannot destroy that many schools. It will send our district into chaos," CTU President Karen Lewis said when the closure list was released. "These actions will put our students safety and academics at risk and will further destabilize our neighborhoods."

CPS officials said the move aims to address the district's $1 billion deficit, make better use of resources and improve education in the nation's third-largest district.

"By consolidating underutilized schools we will be able to redirect those resources and move children safely to a higher-performing welcoming school that has all the things parents, teachers and CPS agree students need to thrive and succeed," CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said, "such as a library, air conditioning, upgraded computer and science technology, and counseling and social support."


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