Citing a budget deficit and declining enrollment, Chicago proposed Thursday that 61 public schools be closed. Teachers and parents warn that the poorest students will be affected the most.
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
In what would be the largest public school closing in US history, Chicago officials are proposing to shutter 61 schools, 9 percent of the 681 schools citywide.
The proposed move is being blasted both by the teachers union and parent groups, who charge that the city is misleading the public regarding the decline in population in certain neighborhoods where it seeks consolidation. They say the decision will ultimately harm the poorest of the city’s children by forcing them to commute farther away from their homes and learn in overcrowded classrooms.
The district has never before closed more than 11 schools in a single year.
“No doubt this is going to be deeply disruptive,” says Steve Tozer, a professor of education and director of the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the decision’s reasoning is financial. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system, which is the third largest in the nation and operates under the control of City Hall, faces a $1 billion budget deficit in the new fiscal year and that each closed school will save the district between $500,000 and $800,000.
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