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Some Hard Lessons Learned From Other School Closings

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The closing of more than 50 Chicago public schools will affect nearly 30,000 students–the largest single-year school closing in U.S. history.

But, with the city facing a $1 billion school budget deficit, will it really save money?

CBS 2′s Chris Martinez reports on the expense involved.

Once a Chicago elementary school, Crispus Attucks, 3813 S. Dearborn, closed its doors for good in 2008.

It is still empty–a warning, perhaps of what is to come on a far bigger scale.

“There are costs associated with closing buildings,” Emily Dowdall, a researcher with Pew, said.

Dowdall studied shuttered schools in six major districts, including Chicago.

She found that the popular notion the closing schools saves money doesn’t always pay off right away.

“There are things to consider like maintenance, like security, like replacing windows if they get broken,” said Dowdall. “Some buildings are more expensive to maintain than others.”

Chicago Public Schools administrators know this already, with more than 20 properties for sale, some for more than a decade.

Now, many more will be added to that list.

Washington D.C., which closed 23 schools in 2008.

It cost the district big money–more than $40 million to relocate equipment and demolish buildings.

That cost is now a sticking point in negotiations to close 15 more D.C. schools.

Chicago is not alone in the school-closing trend. New York is targeting 17 schools and Philadelphia wants to close 23 schools in the coming months.

The research show that in most districts, charter schools most commonly buy and take over closed school buildings. But in Chicago, CPS says that won’t be allowed.

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