Story Summary

CPS officials close dozens of schools, lay off thousands

The board of education voted to shut down dozens of Chicago Public Schools. It’s the largest closure in U.S. history.

The board  voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

CPS also laid off more than 2,000 employees.

The district is facing a $1 billion budget deficit this year.

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST OF CPS CLOSURES.

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This story has 10 updates

Miscommunications are already turning up on the first day after the vote to close dozens of Chicago schools and transfer thousands of students.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett say miscommunications are expected, but Emanuel is confident this painful process will pay off. trumbull

Students rushed into Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 North Ashland Avenue, Thursday morning and it looked to be a typical school day.  But everyone knew Trumbull’s days are numbered.  Parents felt the entire screening process was fixed.

After Wednesday’s raucous School Board meeting and historic vote, the end of this school year will be the end for 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

Parents at Trumbull were already reporting problems trying to get their children enrolled into their new school, due to a computer issue.  CPS tells WGN that computer issue has been worked out and the family enrollment system is now up to speed.

Regardless, a number of parents say they are considering moving out of the district or moving to other areas to get their children into other schools.

This morning Mayor Emanuel and Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett visited Brennemann Elementary School, 4251 North Clarendon Avenue, which is slated to absorb the children of Stewart Elementary School, 4525 North Kenmore Avenue, about a mile away.

There is no way to sugar-coat the pain and potential problems of such a massive upheaval in the nation’s third largest school district.

“Nobody would ask this much of a change and go through this if it wasn’t for the promise of giving every child a better education, and all that promise can then deliver for the rest of their lives,” Mayor Emanuel told WGN.

“The fact of the matter is that we’ve been incredibly deliberate, not only about the numbers but about which schools were identified as welcoming schools and the numbers of children that would be going to those welcoming schools — ergo, no overcrowded classes,” Byrd-Bennett said.

The board of education voted to shut down dozens of Chicago Public Schools.

It’s the largest closure in U.S. history.

Critics expressed their objections during a meeting Wednesday.

But, the board still voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett withdrew her recommendation to close four other schools at the last minute.

Karen Lewis is launching a training program today to teach people how to register enough voters to change the results in the next election.

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)

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)

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett joins WGN Morning News to talk about vote to close 50 schools.

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey joins WGN Morning News

The Chicago Board of Education voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program, leaving parents and students to cope with the changes.

Some parents WGN spoke with said they knew this day was coming and just want to move forward now that it’s here.

The plan is to consolidate the schools into higher-performing schools.

Local News
05/22/13

50 CPS closures announced

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)

After hearing from aldermen, angry parents and community members in a meeting interrupted several times by protesters, the Chicago Board of Education today approved a plan to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

The board voted 4-2 to close Von Humboldt Elementary, then unanimously approved the rest of the closings in a single vote.

Before that, the board voted 6-0 to approve a last-minute recommendation by the district to spare four elementary schools: Manierre Elementary on the Near North Side, Mahalia Jackson and Garvey on the South Side and Ericson on the West Side.

After more than two hours of public comments, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and board members defended the plan to close the highest number of schools the city has ever shut down in a single year.

“We can no longer embrace the status quo because the status quo is not working for all Chicago school children,” Byrd-Bennett said before the vote was taken. “It is imperative that you take the difficult decision but essential steps.”

The district says it needs to close schools to address a looming $1 billion deficit and declining enrollment.

Board President David Vitale, in his remarks before the vote, said that while closing schools is difficult “ultimately it is our responsibility to choose.”

“Today’s reality requires change,” he said.

One by one, board members cited the necessity of closing schools to deal with the district’s fiscal challenges.

“We have to fix our schools and in order to do that we can’t continue to operate with the number of schools we have,” said board member Andrea Zopp said.

Board member Mahalia Hines said she wondered if CPS should wait another year and related it to a recent trip she made to the dentist’s office when he recommended an unpleasant procedure and she thought about waiting a year.

“He said it will continue to decay and the pain will be unbearable,” she said. “The decay can no longer continue.”

Board member Carlos Azcoitia said he wouldn’t have supported any of the actions if he felt CPS wasn’t going to fully support the remaining neighborhood schools.

“Now our big responsibility is to make this work and make neighborhood schools stronger as an option within our communities,” he said.

Board member Andrea Zopp said she is moved by the passion of protesters but that doing nothing is not an option.

“We have to fix our schools and in order to do that we can’t continue to operate with the number of schools we have,” Zopp said.

Before the meeting, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said that she thinks Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has lobbied for closings, all along that he wanted to shut down 50 schools.

“Four schools is a start,” Lewis said of the district’s decision to spare four schools at the 11th hour. “It’s a good start but it’s not enough.”

Emanuel’s office issued a statement after the vote in which the mayor thanked “CEO Byrd-Bennett, the Board, the Commission and the tens of thousands of community members who have played an invaluable role in helping to ensure every child in this city has access to an education that matches their full potential.”

“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,” Emanuel’s statement read. “More hard work lies ahead, but I am confident that together with teachers and principals, engaged parents and community support, our children will succeed.”

An hour and a half before the start of the meeting, about 30 protesters formed a circle in front of school board headquarters at 125 S. Clark Street and chanted, “Education is a right. Not just for the rich and white.”

The board room was packed with about 200 people, and during the public comment portion of the meeting, several aldermen spoke up for schools slated to be closed in their wards.

Ald. LaTasha Thomas, 17th, chairman of the education committee, asked the board to take “a step back.”

“How are the children and families better prepared to make positive change in their lives as a rult of the decision you make?” she asked.

“We’re talking about grammar school kids. We’re talking about babies,” said Ald. Walter Burnettt, 27th.

The school closings would be the most by an urban district in recent history, a fact noted by Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th.

“I urge you this is not a record we want to set,” he said. “We don’t want to look back in five years and say, ‘What did we do?’“ Pawar said.

A group of about 15 people came up to the podium and as one of them, Rebecca Martinez, spoke, a man standing with her, Shannon Bennett of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, started yelling.

“This board is illegitimate!” he said.

Security quickly moved in and tried to pull Bennett away from the podium. As security continued to try to pull the people out of the room, the group of 15 began singing, “We shall not be moved” while security tried to usher them out of the board room.

They continued signing as they were being ushered out of the room.

Parents at schools taken off the list by Byrd-Bennett expressed joy and relieve. Sherise McDaniel was at a meeting to discuss security at Jenner Elementary, where Manierre students were expected to go if there school was closed, when she learned that Manierre had been saved.

“We were jumping up and down, the kids were screaming. It was just a gift,” said McDaniel, who has two children at the Near NorthSide School.

“I had so many highs and lows with this situation,” McDaniel said. “One minute it was looking like there was no hope for us, no matter what was said, no one was listening, no one cared. And then in the next moment when the independent review board agreed with us, we thought, yes, we did it, we have a chance.”

“We feel extremely blessed. Our prayers were answered,” said Tyisha Whitmore, 34, whose daughters are in the 3rd and 8th grade at Garvey Elementary. “We are ecstatic, grateful, still sad about the other 50 schools that will still be closing, because no school should be closed.”

By law, the board was supposed to have a school closing plan in place by last Dec. 1. But Byrd-Bennett won an extension from the General Assembly, saying the district needed to engage the community before undertaking such a massive endeavor.

Months of hearings drew often angry crowds through the winter as CPS gradually whittled down an initial list of 330 schools it said were underenrolled.

The CTU, whose members stand to lose jobs, has led the opposition along with parents and community leaders. While some high performing teachers will follow students to new schools based on need, the vast majority will now be forced to look for jobs.

The CTU has filed two federal lawsuits challenging the closings, arguing that discriminate against special needs children and African Americans, since most of the schools slated to be shut down are predominantly black.

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)

 

- Chicago Tribune Reporting

Below is the list of the schools the Chicago Public School Board has voted to close

Altgeld
Armstrong
Attucks – 2 year delay
Banneker
Bethune
Bontemps
Buckingham
Calhoun
Canter – 1 year delay
De Duprey
Delano
Dumas
Emmet
Fermi
Garfield Park
Goldblatt
Goodlow
Henson
Herbert
Key
King
Kohn
Lafayette
Lawrence
Marconi
May
Mayo
Morgan
Near North
Overton
Owens
Paderewski
Parkman
Peabody
Pershing MS
Pope
Ross
Ryerson
Sexton
Songhai
Stewart
Stockton
Trumbull
Von Humboldt
West Pullman
Williams ES
Williams MS
Woods
Yale

 

These schools will remain open
Ericson
Garvey
Manierre
M. Jackson

The board voted 4-2 to close Von Humboldt Elementary, then voted on the rest of the closings together.

That vote passed unanimosly, so the board all together voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program.

Updates:

From Earlier:

Opponents of Chicago Public Schools’ proposal to shut-down 49 schools are voicing their opinions at CPS headquarters on Wednesday.

CT CPSClosing17.JPG60 speakers, including Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, aldermen, and parents, are among those speaking out against the plan. Security had to remove one parent for trying to speak without being on the official list.

Once all of the speakers are done, the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on whether to close 49 schools. The number used to be more than 50, but CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett withdrew her recommendations to close Manierre Elementary School, Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, Garvey Elementary School, and Ericson Elementary School. She is also requesting Canter Elementary School be closed through a phased-in approach. She is also not trying to get the Academy for Urban School Leadership to run Barton Elementary School.

Several protesters packed into the lobby and attempted a sit-in, but police officers forced them out.

If the board votes to shut-down all of the schools, that would be the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Tens of thousands of children will be affected.

CPS says it needs to close underutilized schools to fix a deep deficit. But, opponents say closures will put the safety of students at risk.

WGN News Writer C. Hayes published this report.

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