Updated 03/21/13 – 6:15 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools announced a plan Thursday to close 53 schools and 61 buildings in an effort to close a $1 billion budget deficit — a proposal that was immediately condemned by the teachers’ union as harmful to minorities and the poor.
The Chicago Board of Education must approve any school closings, which will affect 30,000 students, and a final vote is expected in May. It is the largest single-year school closing ever in the United States.
Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel say the closures are necessary because too many school buildings are half-empty. The district says it has seats for more than 500,000 students but has only about 403,000 students.
“Like school systems in New York and Philadelphia, where enrollment has dropped, Chicago must make tough choices. Consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our city’s students get the resources they need to learn and succeed,” Byrd-Bennett said in a letter posted on the CPS website.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who held a news conference at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, one of the closure targets, condemned the CPS plan as “classist” and “racist.” Most of the schools are in predominately black neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.
Lewis said Emanuel was dodging the issue by going on vacation this week.
“He is the murder mayor,” she said, referencing the city’s recent problems with violence and homicides. “Look at the murder rate in this city. He’s murdering schools, he’s murdering good jobs. He’s murdering housing. I don’t know what else to call him. He’s the murder mayor.”
Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, said the police union is concerned about student safety, if pupils must travel farther to get to class.
“Our resources are already stretched and we don’t know how we’re going to go to the next step,” Camden said.
Here is the list, released by the Chicago Teachers Union. (The Chicago Public Schools provided the same list of school closings but did not include the merger information provided by CTU):
Altgeld Elementary School, 1340 W. 71st St., will be closed into Wentworth.
Armstrong Elementary Math and Science, 5345 W. Congress Pkwy., will be closed into Leland.
Attucks Elementary School, 5055 S. State St., will be phased out over two years and closed into Beethoven.
Banneker Elementary School, 6656 S. Normal Blvd., will be closed into Mays.
Bethune Elementary School, 3030 W. Arthington St., will be closed into Gregory.
Bontemps Elementary School, 1241 W. 58th St., will be closed into Nicholson.
Buckingham Special Education Center, 9207 S. Phillips Ave., will be closed into Montefiore.
Calhoun North Elementary School, 2833 W. Adams St., will be closed into Cather.
Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., will be closed into Hart, Ray.
Delano Elementary School, 3937 W. Wilcox St., will be closed into Melody.
Dumas Technology Academy Elementary School, 6650 S. Ellis Ave., will be closed into Wadsworth.
Roque De Duprey Elementary School, 2620 W. Hirsch St., will be closed into DeDiego.
Emmet Elementary School, 5500 W. Madison St., will be closed into Ellington, DePriest.
Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy, 3600 W. 5th Ave., will be closed into Sumner.
Fermi Elementary School, 1415 E. 70th St., will be closed into South Shore Fine Arts.
Garfield Park Prep Academy Elementary School, 3250 W. Monroe St., will be closed into Faraday.
Garvey M Elementary School, 10309 S. Morgan St., will be closed into Mount Vernon.
Goldblatt Elementary School, 4257 W. Adams St., will be closed into Hefferan.
Goodlow Elementary Magnet School, 2040 W. 62nd St., will be closed into Earle.
Henson Elementary School, 1329 S. Avers Ave., will be closed into C. Hughes.
Herbert Elementary School, 2131 W. Monroe St., will be closed into Dett.
Key Elementary School, 517 N. Parkside Ave., will be closed into Ellington.
King Elementary School, 740 S. Campbell Ave., will be closed into Jensen.
Kohn Elementary School, 10414 S. State St., will be closed into Cullen, Lavizzo, L. Hughes.
Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. August Blvd., will be closed into Chopin.
Lawrence Elementary School, 9928 S. Crandon Ave., will be closed into Burnham.
Manierre Elementary School, 1420 N. Hudson Ave., will be closed into Jenner.
Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, 917 W. 88th St., will be closed into Fort Dearborn.
Marconi Elementary Community Academy, 230 N. Kolmar Ave., will be closed into Tilton.
May Elementary Community Academy, 512 S. Lavergne Ave., will be closed into Leland.
Mayo Elementary School, 249 E. 37th Street, will be closed into Wells.
Morgan Elementary School, 8407 S. Kerfoot Ave., will be closed into Ryder.
Near North Elementary School, 739 N. Ada St., will be closed into Montefiore.
Overton Elementary School, 221 E. 49th St., will be closed into Mollison.
Owens Elementary Community Academy, 12450 S. State St., will be closed into Gompers.
Paderewski Elementary Learning Academy, 2221 S. Lawndale Ave., will be closed into Cardenas and Castellanos.
Parkman Elementary School, 245 W. 51st St., will be closed into Sherwood.
Peabody Elementary School, 1444 W. August Blvd., will be closed into Otis.
Pershing West Middle School, 3200 S. Calumet Ave., will be closed into Pershing East.
Pope Elementary School, 1852 S. Albany Ave., will be closed into Johnson.
Ross Elementary School, 6059 S. Wabash Ave., will be closed into Dulles.
Ryerson Elementary School, 646 N. Lawndale Ave., will be closed into Ward.
Sexton Elementary School, 6020 S. Langley Ave., will be closed into Fiske.
Songhai Elementary Learning Institute, 11725 S. Perry, will be closed into Curtis.
Stewart Elementary School, 4525 N. Kenmore Ave., will be closed into Brennemann.
Stockton Elementary School, 4420 N. Beacon St., will be closed into Courtenay.
Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 N. Ashland Ave., will be closed into Chappell, McPherson, McCutcheon.
Von Humboldt Elementary School, 2620 W. Hirsch St., will be closed into De Diego.
West Pullman Elementary School, 11941 S. Parnell Ave., will be closed into Haley.
Williams Middle Prep Academy, 2710 S. Dearborn St., will be closed into Drake.
Williams Multiplex Elementary School, 2710 S. Dearborn St., will be closed into Drake.
Woods Elementary Math & Science Academy, 6206 S. Racine Ave., will be closed into Bass.
Yale Elementary School, 7025 S. Princeton Ave., will be closed into Harvard
For a detailed rundown of the CPS plans, and public hearings associated with them, click here.
At Jean D. Lafayette Elementary School, the principal informed teachers and staff Thursday morning that the Humboldt Park neighborhood school is on the school closing list. The school has approximately 470 students, over 170 of them with autism.
Teacher Rosemary Maurello told the Associated Press letters and information packets were already being sent to parents, and the district’s message to teachers included a mention of specific plans to move the Lafayette students to another school about 10 blocks away.
“It sounds like a done deal to me,” Maurello said.
Like many teachers, she is worried about where her students will end up. As a tenured teacher, the contract allows her to follow her students to their new school, but she wonders if some of them will opt to go to other schools instead.
A group of parents and local residents with the community group Action Now were staging a series of protest marches Thursday morning, outside the homes of three Chicago Board of Education members, to express their outrage over school closing plans.
Chanting “no school closings!” the activists staged their first protest outside the home of board member Andrea Zopp in the Morgan Park neighborhood. Zopp is also head of the Chicago Urban League.
One protester said, “School closings are happening in mostly African-American communities, and Ms. Zopp has done nothing to stop it.”
Opponents of the school closing plans have said the move would not be good for students, or their neighborhoods. Protesters marched, chanted, and gave interviews for about 20 minutes before heading to the homes of board members David Vitale and Penny Pritzker.
The teachers union also has planned a rally to protest the school closings next Wednesday at Daley Plaza.
The district has said it’s too costly to keep all of its school buildings open, when it has 330 schools it considers under-utilized, and is facing a projected $1 billion budget shortfall.
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