CHICAGO (CBS) — It might seem redundant, but the Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday announced it was moving to close a school that already has no students.
John Hope College Preparatory High School, at 5515 S. Lowe Ave. at Garfield Boulevard, already has zero enrolled students. All of the students already transferred to other schools in the area.
CPS noted that in 2017, it set out to strengthen high school options in Englewood by investing in a new, state-of-the-art high school and also closing Robeson High School. CPS also voted for the delayed closure of three other under-enrolled high schools – Harper, Hope, and TEAM.
Meanwhile this year, the $85 million Englewood STEM High School opened earlier this year at 6835 S. Normal Blvd. for more than 420 freshman students, CPS said.
Before Englewood STEM opened, Englewood had the highest rate of students traveling to other neighborhoods for high school. The opening of Englewood STEM has reversed the trend, CPS said.
CPS also set up transition phase-out plans Harper, Hope, and TEAM high schools in which students could remain at the schools through graduation or transfer to another high school by the end of the 2020-21 school year. TEAM High School had no students left by February 2019 and closed, and the district is now proposing closing Hope High School for the same reason at the end of the current school year.
The Chicago Teachers Union took issue with the planned closing of Hope High School, and with school closings in general.
“So this is how a school—one with more than 40 years of history that includes a state champion girls basketball team, multiple city champion debate teams, a featured role in the video for a single on a Grammy-nominated album and myriad positive impacts on thousands of students and families’ lives—officially ends?” the union said. “With a procedural press release?”
The union accused CPS Portfolio Chief Bing Howell of being a “disciple of the Broad Foundation, an organization that pushes a pro-privatization, pro-charter agenda at the expense of traditional neighborhood schools,” and claimed that Howell’s job was to close schools as part of a pro-charter privatization agenda.
“Hope is just the first,” the union claimed.
There are two community meetings and a public meeting scheduled before the vote.
The community meetings are set for Tuesday, Jan. 14, and Thursday, Jan. 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. – both at Kershaw Elementary at 6450 S. Lowe Ave. The public hearing is set for Wednesday, Jan. 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the CPS Central Office at 42 W. Madison St.
A Chicago School Board vote on closing the school could come as soon as February.