Tags: US | Chicago | School | Closings

Chicago Board Votes to Close 50 Schools

Image: Chicago Board Votes to Close 50 Schools A school bus drives by the Jean De Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago, one of 50 schools slated to be closed by the city.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 04:44 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

CHICAGO — The Chicago School Board voted on Wednesday to close 50 schools before the next academic year begins in the largest such mass public school closing in U.S. history.

The nation's third-largest public school district took the unusual step because of declining enrollment as population has fallen in low income areas of the city.

The school district has said dozens of schools were operating at well below capacity. Chicago also faces a wide budget deficit and desperately needs to save money.

City officials say the closings are necessary because of falling school enrollment and as part of their efforts to improve the city's struggling education system.

But critics have blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, saying the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis pledged to start a voter registration drive in an attempt to register 200,000 new voters before the 2015 municipal elections — when Emanuel will be up for re-election — and to raise funds to support candidates for mayor, city council and statewide office.

"We know that we may not win every seat we intend to target but with research, polling, money and people power we can win some of them," Lewis said.

Even if the board — which is appointed by Emanuel — votes to spare some schools, many experts say it would be the largest number of closings at any one time by any school district in recent memory.

The mayor said Tuesday he believes closing the schools is the right thing to do, and that possible blowback from voters isn't a factor in his decisions.

"I will absorb the political consequence so our children have a better future," Emanuel said. "If I was to shrink from something the city has discussed for over a decade about what it needed to do ... because it was politically too tough, but then watch another generation of children drop out or fail in their reading and math, I don't want to hold this job."

Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005, including more than 40 in 2010 alone.

The school closings are the second major issue pitting Emanuel against the Chicago Teachers Union. The group's 26,000 members went on strike early in the school year, partly over the school district's demand for longer school days, idling students for a week.

Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett say the district's financial and educational struggles call for drastic action. They say the nation's third-largest school district is facing a deficit of about $1 billion and that too many Chicago Public Schools buildings are half-empty because of a population drop in some city neighborhoods. They've also pledged students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically.

CPS says it has 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000. About 30,000 students would be affected by the plan that was announced in March, with about half that number moving into new schools. All of the schools being considered for closure are elementary schools, serving students up to eighth grade.

Alderman Jason Ervin, whose West Side ward includes several schools slated for closure, said he has been meeting with school board members and Byrd-Bennett to try to explain the potential impact of the closings, which he says could further destabilize the area. He said many area residents have grown frustrated because they feel the decision about which schools to close was made months ago, despite weeks of additional hearings and community meetings.

But he was less certain what impact, if any, it could have on Emanuel's political future.

"He's the mayor. I'm the alderman. We still have to work together," Ervin said. "People will make those decisions when the time comes."

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Brent Bozell: Media Refuses to Cover Easter as Religious Holiday

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 21:45 PM

Media outlets are largely ignoring the religious side of holidays such as Easter and Christmas, says Media Research Cent . . .

High-Tech Surveillance System Blankets Boston For Marathon

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 20:18 PM

A high-tech surveillance system consisting of cameras connected to a network that uses a form of artificial intelligence . . .

Researcher: Total Parental Involvement Can Hinder Kids' Education

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 20:07 PM

Most parents believe the more they are involved in their children's education, the better they will do in school. Keith  . . .

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved