Chicago Public School kids are heading into Spring Break this week, but it will be hard for some students and parents to relax and knowing their neighborhood school is slated to close at the end of the school year.
“We need neighborhood schools, they are the heart and soul of the community so you take away the neighborhood schools you’re really distroying neighborhoods,” said parent Hannah Hayes
For the first time since the closures became public, we heard from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who brushed off criticsm that he was on a family vacation when the announcement about the closures was made; “”I did take a family, a long time family trip, but as everyone here knows, you are never far from the office based on the number of phone calls and emails you do.”
The Mayor insisted that closing the 54 so called under performing schools and moving thousands of students to new schools was the only way ensure a better education; “I want to be clear, it’s tough, it’s very difficult but it has to be done so we can achieve the goal that every parent and everyone in this city wants for their child to have a high quality education.”
The Mayor wouldn’t answer a question about what will happen to the school buildings that will become vacant by the closures, a concern for families who don’t want empty buildings in their neighborhoods that could attract a criminal element.
“There’s going to be an abadoned building with this middle school closing so I think this impacts the whole city. It’s not just the kids and the parents it’s really the whole city, it’s not good for the neighborhoods,” said Hayes.
Many of the closures affect schools on the south and west sides, leading some to call the closures racist, but Alderman Anthony Beale, whose own ward faces school closures, says he doesnt see it that way; “It’s frustration and a lot of times in the heat of frustration you say things that may not be accurate, I’ve never seen that side of the Mayor he’s trying to great work as far as the CPS.”
Moving forward, CPS will hold three hearings for each school where community members or parents can come out and air their concerns to CPS about their neighborhood schools closing. A final vote on the school closures will happen in May.