Despite impassioned pleas from parents and community activists, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close the vast majority of schools on its list. Citywide, 49 elementary schools and one high school program will close.
After a last minute recommendation by the district, the boarded voted to spare four elementary schools: On the south side, Mahalia Jackson and Garvey. On the west side, Ericson. And on the near north side Manierre Elementary.
Before taking a vote, board president David Vitale says he and the other board members carefully weighed their decision.
“We have been out to each and every one of these impacted communities. We have walked past abounded buildings, walked thru underutilized with entire floors devoid of students,” he said.
CPS chief Barbara Bryd Bennett says the district has no choice as it faces a one billion dollar budget deficit and declining enrollment.
“I made a commitment to work to build trust, it does not happen overnight, to create transparencies and to gain respect for the system and for our communities,” she said.
Outside CPS headquarters on South Clark St the protest raged on. Several aldermen voiced their opposition to some or all of the school closings in their respective wards.
“The pending proposals places an inequitable burden upon African American and Latino communities,” Ald. Bob Fioretti said.
In response, Mayor Emanuel released a statement reading in part: “I know this is incredibly difficult, but I firmly believe the most important thing we can do as a city is provide the next generation with a brighter future. More hard work lies ahead, but I am confident that together with teachers and principals, engaged parents and community support, our children will succeed.”
Arguably the most vocal opponent to the school closings, Chicago Teachers Union Karen Lewis spoke to the board this afternoon and then to reporters immediately after the historic vote.
“Here’s the thing that hurts me the most, I have to believe on some level these people think they’re doing the right thing and they care about children. I just think they are so misguided,” Lewis said.
The following elementary schools, and one high school program, are closing:
1. Louis Armstrong Math & Science Elementary School
2. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School
3. Arna Wendell Bontemps Elementary School
4. Kate S Buckingham Special Education Center
5. John Calhoun North Elementary School
6. Miriam G Canter Middle School
7. Ana Roque de Duprey Elementary School
8. Robert Emmet Elementary School
9. Nathan R Goldblatt Elementary School
10. Matthew A Henson Elementary School
11. Francis Scott Key Elementary School
12. William H King Elementary School
13. Alfred David Kohn Elementary School
14. Jean D Lafayette Elementary School
15. Guglielmo Marconi Elementary Community Academy
16. Garrett A Morgan Elementary School
17. Near North Elementary School
18. Anthony Overton Elementary School
19. Jesse Owens Elementary Community Academy
20. Ignance Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy
21. Francis Parkman Elementary School
22. Elizabeth Peabody Elementary School
23. Nathaniel Pope Elementary School
24. Betsy Ross Elementary School
25. Songhai Elementary Learning Institute
26. Graeme Stewart Elementary School
27. Lyman Trumbull Elementary School
28. Alexander von Humboldt Elementary School
29. West Pullman Elementary School
30. Granville T Woods Math & Science Academy ES
31. Elihu Yale Elementary School
32. Crispus Attucks Elementary School
33. John P Altgeld Elementary School
34. Benjamin Banneker Elementary School
35. Edward C Delano Elementary School
36. Dumas Technology Academy
37. Enrico Fermi Elementary School
38. Garfield Park Preparatory Academy ES
39. Elaine O Goodlow Elementary Magnet School
40. Victor Herbert Elementary School
41. Robert H Lawrence Elementary School
42. Horatio May Elementary Community Academy
43. William J & Charles H Mayo Elementary School
44. Pershing West Middle School
45. Martin A Ryerson Elementary School
46. Austin O Sexton Elementary School
47. Joseph Stockton Elementary School
48. Williams Multiplex Elementary School
49. Williams Preparatory Academy Middle School
50. Roswell B Mason Elementary School (high school program only)