To see the full list of schools proposed for consolidation,
co-location or turnaround, visit CPS.edu/QualitySchools.
This has been the most depressing spring break ever. My son's
school is closing.
He brought home a packet of the most confusing letters and forms
I've ever seen from CPS. I can't really decipher them, much less
the majority of the parents at the school who don't speak English
very well, if at all. Lucky for me, he is already set to attend
Kindergarten at another school with his sister next fall. But
that's not the case for most students at the school, not to mention
the teachers and staff.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, or BBB as most refer to her, has come into
our district and cleaned house with the plans to close 54 schools,
immediately affecting over 100 schools and eventually trickling
through the whole system.
We've heard the laundry list of reasons: under-utilized, low
performance, costly building repairs, and on and on. But the truth
is, not every targeted school meets up to these claims.
For example, my son's school, Trumbull Elementary, was said to
be 54% utilized, but CPS failed to account for the one third
special education population. This means they calculated all of the
classrooms to be filled at 30 students, yet the special ed
classrooms can hold only 8 or 13 students, depending on the
specific type. This means the school is more than 80% utilized.
But CPS has been unwilling to correct this error, even though
two notable organizations have published the information: Raise your Hand Illinois and
Apples to Apples. You can link to it through another great
Trumbull has a principal, in only her second year, who is doing
amazing things with the school. She spent her first year reviving
the school, creating new ways for parents and community members to
get involved, and finally getting a functional LSC after the former
one had been in place for years. Now the students are engaged by
great new teachers including four that are National Board
Certified, and parent/community involvement has never been higher.
The school is in a more promising position than ever. So why is it
The building needs repairs, and it happens to be sitting on a
very valuable piece of land. And CPS really has a business plan in
place, not a plan to improve our children's education. If you look
at the group of northside schools, it's pretty easy to see that the
school closures were really determined as a real estate
transaction. Close, consolidate, shuffle, empty out the buildings
on the valuable land, and sell the real estate.
But does CPS really need to spend $16.3 M on the renovation of
the Trumbull building, as was cited in my packet? Or can their
credibility be questioned? Maybe it won't cost anywhere near that
to renovate Trumbull, and maybe the estimates for other schools are
way off too. CPS is lacking back-up information - that is supposed
to be presented at a meeting next week - so how did they already
make these decisions and come up with these numbers? Given their
credibility in other areas, then how can we trust this?
With all the promise of better schools for our children, why are
schools planned to close and relocate to other schools that in some
cases are lower performing? And how can you consolidate all of
these kids and not increase class size? Easy, go to 120% capacity.
That's what it seems the CPS plan is, which will ultimately force
all schools into bigger class sizes, something many parents have
avoided by choosing smaller schools. And then there's the
ever-present safety issue that exists when you suddenly have rival
gang members walking around the same school hallways.
CPS thinks charter schools are what we all want, and there's
even been some recent editorials boasting the high number of
applicants for charter schools. But as one CPS principal said, how
many kids are on waitlists for selective enrollment high schools
and elementary schools? The answer is a lot more.
In the coming weeks, as the 60 day appeal takes place, there
will be teachers and school staff looking for jobs, parents trying
to figure out what to do, hearings, protests and alot of media
attention. If CPS goes through with their plan, let's see if they
can deliver on all of their lofty promises and wishful
But no matter what happens, it's a sad day in the city of
Chicago to think of so many shuttered school buildings where kids
are now happily learning.
See more of Heather's stories here.
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