20,000 freshman seats remain vacant in Chicago Public Schools: report

CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools’ new high school enrollment program is leaving schools with thousands of empty freshmen seats, according to a study released Thursday from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The GoCPS application lets freshmen apply for programs at higher performing schools, instead of their neighborhood schools. The application has caused some under enrolled schools to be even more vacant.

20,000 ninth grade seats, across CPS, remain unfilled.

Researchers expect two thirds will stay empty when the school year starts next month due to years of declining enrollment.

The remaining third are expected to wind up in their neighborhood school.

The Chicago Tribune reports Hirsch High School, as of last month, does not have one incoming freshman student. Only one is signed up for Douglass High School.

CPS officials say they expect enrollment to fluctuate after classes begin.

They predict some students will enroll in their neighborhood school outside of the electronic application process.

“The preliminary findings from this report are encouraging: families are highly engaged and making important decisions about their children’s education,” CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement. “This research is providing us with an unprecedented look into families’ choices, programs, and trends, and we look forward to receiving additional research and insights after students enroll in the fall.”

Chicago’s first day of school is Tuesday, September 4.