Neighborhood schools could know if they’re slated for closure as soon as February, according to a Chicago Public Schools notice sent Friday morning.
In December, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett appointed a Commission on School Utilization to hold public hearings about under-utilized schools, advising the board on its consolidation efforts.
The closures stem from a drop in the CPS student population over the past decade. The schools are serving 403,000 students with the capacity for 511,000, according to the release.
CPS will host a second round of community meetings, with two in each network between Jan. 28 and March 4. A first round of meetings was held in December.
High schools and Level 1 high-performing schools are off the chopping block, “except in rare cases where a school may pose a life/safety threat to students and staff,” the release says.
The committee gave Byrd-Bennett their recommendations last week, which the CEO and her team will work to refine before presenting them the public.
The release indicates:
These include, among others, the Commission’s recommendations not to close schools that are close to efficient utilization, not to close underutilized schools that have recently experienced a significant school action, and not to close underutilized Level 2 schools that are ‘on the rise.’
“My team will work with me to define the Commission’s remaining recommendations to design a concise and consistent process that helps to identify schools that will remain under consideration as we engage with our communities,” Byrd-Bennett said. “We cannot release schools on a piecemeal basis. Our school communities deserve better than that and we have an obligation to be thoughtful and deliberate in creating a list of schools so they can provide specific feedback as part of our engagement process.”
In the two community meetings, the first will focus on metrics of that network’s schools. The second will have a list of schools slated for closure based on the commission’s recommendations. From the release:
This will allow communities to provide feedback and input on schools that remain on the table in their neighborhoods. While this list will not represent the final set of recommended schools that will go before the Board, it will give communities the opportunity to give CPS critical feedback on individual schools to better inform CEO Byrd-Bennett of final recommendations she will make to the Board in March.