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Byrd-Bennett Won’t Seek To Close High Schools, Highest-Performing Schools

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has agreed to take the city’s high schools and highest-performing schools out of consideration for closure, as recommended by a school closing panel she formed, but she won’t rule out closing schools with more than 600 students.

Following a series of public meetings, the school closing commission issued a preliminary report last week recommending CPS not close any of its high schools, or any of the schools rated “Level 1” for high performance. Byrd-Bennett agreed with that recommendation in her formal response on Friday.

She reserved the right, however, to close one or two high schools or high-performing schools if the buildings are in such bad physical condition that they pose a danger to students and staff.

“The safety and security of our students must be a top priority in this process, in addition to ensuring that we keep our high-performing schools available as an option for every family in our District,” she said in a statement. “By taking high schools and Level 1 schools off the table, we best maintain our ability to meet these priorities.”

The panel also recommend keeping open any school with more than 600 students, but Byrd-Bennett announced Friday she would consider those schools on a case-by-case basis.

Byrd-Bennett plans to conduct more public meetings on potential school closings to hear from parents and members of the community, starting Jan. 28.

She also planned to provide a preliminary list of schools to recommend for closure by Feb. 13.

A final list of recommended closings will be presented to the Board of Education in March.