CHICAGO (CBS) — The head of the Chicago Public Schools is urging parents and others to make their voices heard at meetings this week on which schools might have to be closed.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett says the schools belong to the citizens and communities of Chicago, and she wants feedback before recommending which schools should close after this school year.

Last week, she said 129 schools are on a preliminary list for possible closure, as the district seeks ways to close a $1 billion budget shortfall.

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Byrd-Bennett said the district has 511,000 seats for 403,000 students. The city has more than 300 school buildings that are under-utilized; 140 of those are more than half-empty.

Many parents have been calling for a moratorium on school closings.

They’ll have a chance to say so at meetings this week in the Burnham Park, Skyway, Pershing, and O’Hare areas of CPS.

  • Tuesday: Burnham Park Network community meeting, 7 p.m., at St. Anselm Church, 6045 S. Michigan Av.
  • Wednesday: Skyway Network community meeting, 7 p.m., at South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.
  • Thursday: Pershing Network community meeting, 7 p.m., at Fuller Park Field House, 331 W. 45th St.
  • Saturday: O’Hare Network community meeting, 11 a.m., at Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett Av.

Additional meetings will be held next week in the Rock Island, Fulton, Garfield-Humboldt, Fullerton, and Midway areas of CPS.

The full calendar for community meetings can be found here.

Byrd-Bennett stressed that the list released last week is still preliminary and that all 129 schools might not be closed.

CPS will not be closing any high schools. Schools that meet a variety of criteria, including those that are high performing, Level 1 schools, schools in the process of increasing enrollment or with more than 600 students, will be exempt.

A variety of other issues, which can be viewed on the CPS website, will also be considered.

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