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School Closure Commission Report: CPS Can Safely Shut Down 80 Schools

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 7, 2013 4:45PM

Photo credit: Ken Smith

The committee formed by Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to gather community involvement on school closures released its final report Wednesday, providing Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel with the research needed to justify the school systems plan to shut down under-performing and underutilized schools across the city.

The Commission on School Utilization’s report states CPS could close or overhaul up to 80 schools this year. (You can read the commission’s report here.) The commission had previously stated their reservations over whether the school district, which had never closed more than a dozen schools in a given school year, could close this many while ensuring displaced students had a nearby school to safely receive them. The final report still voices those reservations and other obstacles that will stand in the way of CPS’ plan to close or turn around underutilized schools.

CPS is supposed to have their final list of closures by the end of the month and the fear among many parents of CPS students is that the South and West Sides will be adversely affected. The Sun-Times conducted an analysis of the list of 129 schools currently being debated for closure and found nine out of every 10 students to be potentially affected by school closures are black.

Parents, teachers and students have criticized the closure process, including numerous public hearings, since it began. Adding fuel to the fire the Fix is already in is a decision last week by the Chicago School Board to push back their scheduled meeting from the end of March (when the final list is supposed to be released) to the first week of April. The Board said they made this decision because the meeting coincided with spring break. The Chicago Teachers Union and other opponents of school closures argued the Board of Education’s decision to reschedule the meeting denies them one final chance to speak directly to the Board before schools are slated for closure.