Mar 21 2013
CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Public Schools officials have begun informing schools about which buildings are being targeted for closure or consolidation at the end of the school year.
The district has yet to announce exactly how many schools would be affected, or how many students would be moved to new schools, but sources said about 50 schools will be closed. The Chicago Board of Education must approve any school closings, and a final vote is expected in May.
CPS has until March 31 to issue a list of schools it plans to close at the end of the school year. Officials have been reviewing a preliminary list of 129 schools that are being considered for closure due to low enrollment. An independent commission has said the district should close no more than 80 schools.
At Jean D. Lafayette Elementary School, the principal informed teachers and staff Thursday morning that the Humboldt Park neighborhood school is on the school closing list. The school has approximately 470 students, over 170 of them with autism.
Teacher Rosemary Maurello told the Associated Press letters and information packets were already being sent to parents, and the district’s message to teachers included a mention of specific plans to move the Lafayette students to another school about 10 blocks away.
“It sounds like a done deal to me,” Maurello said.
Like many teachers, she is worried about where her students will end up. As a tenured teacher, the contract allows her to follow her students to their new school, but she wonders if some of them will opt to go to other schools instead.
The district also has informed some aldermen on the City Council Education Committee about the school closings list.
The Chicago Teachers Union has repeatedly criticized the district’s plans to close dozens of schools. The union has said the list of schools being considered for closing unfairly targets minorities, with nearly half of the targeted schools in African-American communities.
Amid reports the district plans to close 50 schools, CTU President Karen Lewis responded angrily in a written statement.
“This city cannot destroy that many schools. It will send our district into chaos,” Lewis said. “These actions will put our students’ safety and academics at risk and will further destabilize our neighborhoods.”