The Real Truth About CPS School Closings

Seventy-seven percent of African Americans in Chicago do not approve of CPS's plans to close schools and move children to other schools. CPS a few weeks ago announced 54 school closings, 11 school co-locations (with charter schools), and 6 turnarounds, estimating that approximately 30,000 students would be impacted by these actions.

However, this is not true. These school actions will affect 133 schools and 47,500 students in these proposed school actions. There are three kinds of possible impacts of these school actions:

1. Relocation of students would occur under three circumstances; a. Students from most closing schools are proposed to relocate to a receiving school. b. In 14 of the proposed school actions, students and faulty from the receiving school would relocate to the building of the closing school. c. In the 8 co-locations that do not involve a new school, students would be relocated from one co-location school to the other. Relocating students from 60 schools would be impacted by the loss existing school community; the challenges of adapting to a new school community; having to negotiate new routes to school; and disruptions to relationships, services, and learning processes in place at the current school.

2. Receiving students who have been located from another school who are enrolled in the 65 schools receiving new students would be impacted by the redistribution of school services and resources; disruptions caused by adapting to the influx of new students; and changes to the school community and relationships. Administrators, faculty and staff would be impacted by the workload of programming for, and accommodating, the incoming students and personnel; and revising service provision models in place for students with special needs and response to intervention processes.

3. Dismissing faculty and staff at the 58 schools would dismiss about 500 faculty members, 400 staff members and 100 administrators (80% will be African American). This would occur under two circumstances; closing schools and turnarounds. Personnel dismissed from schools would be impacted by the loss of their jobs, and the loss of their relationships with colleagues and students, except for those who are rehired at a receiving school (however they must have an excellent or superior rating, must be certified in that subject or grade level and there has to be a position available).

Students whose teachers are dismissed would be impacted by the loss of the relationships with those adults, disruptions to their school community, and disruptions to their learning processes and services being provided. Of the total of students to be impacted, 38,326 (or 81%) are African American students. CPS claims they are facing a $1 billion deficit in their budget for the school year 2013-2014. However, CPS's past history of budgeting should give caution. Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) from the school years 2011-2012 and 2010-2011 show that CPS has a history of overstating their budget troubles. In the 2011-2012 school year, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) approved a budget with a $214 million deficit.

However, CPS ended the school year with a $328 million surplus. And again, the Chicago Board of Education approved a budget anticipating a $245 million "deficit" for the 2010-2011 school year, but ended that school year with a $328 million surplus.

CPS's estimates of how much they will save on closures are based on the assumption that CPS can lease, sell or repurpose 50 percent of the shuttered buildings.

CPS is already having difficulty disposing of the schools that they already closed. A Pew report determined that the City of Chicago was only able to sell, lease or repurpose 17 of its closed school buildings between 2005 and 2012, During that same time, 24 closed school properties remained on the market — and now CPS wants to close 54 more school buildings!

Since 2001, 98 of the 100 schools being closed or phased out in Chicago have been located in prodominantly African American and Latino communities. School closures directly correspond to the locations of troubled mortgages, foreclosures, and population loss. Closing neighborhood schools will discourage people from moving back into these disinvested communities. School closures will exacerbate tensions between communities and lead to violence. Since 2004, school closures that transfer students to schools outside their immediate neighborhoods have resulted in spikes of violence in and around elementary schools.


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