Local parents and teachers can take a breath, but tough times are still ahead for Chicago Public Schools.
Schools in Lincoln Square, Ravenswood and North Center were spared from a preliminary 129-school closing list released Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be impacted by more students or co-location, CPS officials said.
Nearby Trumbull Elementary in Andersonville and three Uptown schools weren’t so lucky. Those schools have a March 31 deadline to change the minds of CPS decision-makers.
“We are going to take these 129 and continue to sift through these schools,” CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the Chicago Tribune. About 43,000 attend the schools slated for closure.
Relocated students could likely go to McPherson and Chappell Elementary, which are on a list of “underutilized,” CPS schools. Underutilized schools are below 80 percent of their ideal population.
Out of the district’s 681 schools, 330 of them are below the 80 percent target.
Parents and teachers weren't the only ones relieved. Ward 47 Ald. Ameya Pawar said he was nervous McPherson would be on the chopping block. Ultimately though, he credited the school's energy and community promotion as its savior.
"Not only do we have amazing schools, we have amazing sets of parents that are organizing around these schools," he said.
The majority areas targeted for closure are the South, West and Southwest sides of the city.
In December, Byrd-Bennett gathered a committee to create a method of choosing schools for closure. The Commission on School Utilization has been hosting meetings to gain feedback from parents and teachers.
The community meetings didn't go so well.
The first hearing at Truman College brought parents shouting ‘Save Our Schools,’ preventing officials from showing a presentation. And in Local Square, Ward 1 Ald. Joe Moreno was booed offstage.
Chicago parents gathered on Tuesday to protest the way CPS chose the schools for closure, the Huffington Post reports. The parents—part of the activist group Parents 4 Teachers—filed a complaint with CPS Inspector General James M. Sullivan accusing the commission of having conflicts of interest.
The school closures stem from a $1 billion budget deficit expected in 2013-2014, according to CPS.
After this year, no more schools will close until 2020, Byrd-Bennett said.
See full list of proposed school closings below and an interactive map here.
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