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Four CPS Schools Spared From Closure Ahead Of Wednesday's Vote [UPDATE]

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 22, 2013 4:45PM

Mahalia Jackson Elementary School is one of the schools removed from the list of closings. Jackson was featured on a CTU-sponsored bus trip for media in March. The students would've been forced to cross railroad tracks (with all the usual physical and socioeconomic dangers that entails) to travel to the receiving school.

Update 12:57 p.m.: We've added a Storify to this post following the School Board's meeting.

With Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handpicked school board set to vote on Chicago Public Schools plan to close an unprecedented number of schools because the district claims they suffer from poor performance and declining enrollments, four schools have been spared from the list, with another two receiving some borrowed time.

Sources have told the Tribune and Sun-Times the schools that will remain open are Marcus Garvey Elementary School and Mahalia Jackson Elementary School on the South Side; Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy on the West Side, and George Manierre Elementary School on the Near North Side. Marcus Garvey is where 9-year-old Asean Johnson, who made headlines when he passionately explained why the school should remain open, attends.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is also leaning toward delaying the closure of Miriam G. Canter Middle School until next year and will allow the staff of Clara Barton Elementary School the opportunity to improve the school.

Manierre's removal from the list is noteworthy due to the financial investments the school has received from outside sources. They've received grants from Target and Erikson Institute, among others, which have funded literacy programs, a library, an early math program and a child-parent center for pre-kindergarten to 3rd Grade. Manierre is expected to see growth in its enrollment as a result of planned development projects in Old Town. Byrd-Bennett recognized Garvey's successes in social-emotional learning, which have helped students like Johnson develop empathy and problem-solving skills.

Byrd-Bennett is said to have taken into consideration suggestions from community meetings and hearing officers reports on the schools that were spared.

Board vice president Jesse Ruiz wouldn't indicate how the Board will vote or if any other schools will either be removed from the list or have their closings phased in over a period of time.