School closing commission recommends against closing CPS high schools
A Chicago Public Schools commission on school closings recommends against the closure of any public schools in the city.
A preliminary report from the panel, which was appointed by CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, also proposes that the district’s best-performing schools and those showing progress be kept open, along with turn-around schools.
The commission said that children should not have to travel through dangerous areas to simply get to and from school.
They say closing high schools would increase security threats by mixing kids from different neighborhoods.
CPS has said utilization will be the key factor in closing schools, but the commission recommends that under-utilized schools that are in the process of adding grades be kept open. So should schools with more than 600 students, under the report’s proposals.Faced with dwindling enrollment, the district is expected to close a number of schools at the end of this school year – sources in September said 80 to 120 schools could be on the block.
District officials have said they are awaiting full recommendations from the Commission on School Utilization in early March before they release an actual list of schools to be closed.While CPS has said it will take the recommendations into account, Byrd-Bennett has also said the district is not bound to follow all the suggestions.The district has identified more than 300 “under-enrolled” schools.
The commission has held meetings with residents and community groups across the city, but its role in the school closing process has repeatedly come into question by those who oppose school closings. Critics have also questioned the ability of the commission to remain independent from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school administration.While Byrd-Bennett has said she expects a list of schools to close from the commission. Commission members have said they are not expected to provide a list of schools to target only recommendations on “the best method” to identify schools for closing and which schools should be removed from consideration.