Closed schools may become charters despite CEO’s promise

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When she was closing 50 schools last year, Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised that none of them would be turned into charter schools.

But now, CPS is selling three of those shuttered buildings, two possibly to charter school operators — one of which is currently leasing part of the building and interested in buying it, the district said Tuesday.

The University of Chicago approached the district about buying the former Wadsworth building, at 6420 S. University, where it leases space for its Woodlawn charter campus, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey denied that Byrd-Bennett was going back on her word, saying, “In this circumstance, this building was a co-location, and it was never vacant.”

The former Marconi School, 230 N. Kolmar, also could be sold to a charter operator. Its conditions of sale require it to be “used exclusively as an alternative or options school for any K-12 grades and no other purpose without prior written approval from the Chicago Board of Education,” the proposal read.

And the former Peabody School site — which includes two buildings and a playground in the 1400 block of West Augusta Boulevard — also is for sale to a buyer who’d provide after-school programming, workforce development, child care, Head Start programming and other kinds of community services, according to the bid documents.

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