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Afternoon Edition: Oct. 27, 2021

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

Chicago Public Schools suffered its 10th consecutive year of falling enrollment, now down to 330,000 students. 
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will be mostly sunny with a high near 57 degrees. Tonight will see increasing clouds and a low around 47. Tomorrow showers are expected, mainly after 1 p.m., along with a high near 54.

Top story

Transfers to private schools, suburban districts, homeschooling spur latest CPS enrollment drop

Chicago Public Schools’ latest enrollment drop was spurred largely by students leaving the city for schools in the suburbs, downstate or entirely out of the state, plus children moving to city private schools, parents opting for homeschooling or kids falling off the district’s radar, new data released today shows.

The number of students falling into one of those categories totaled almost 26,000 and left CPS hanging on by a thread to its status as the third-largest district in the nation. The school system suffered its 10th consecutive year of falling enrollment, now down to 330,000 from last year’s 341,000, according to a tally on the 20th day of this school year.

CPS saw a rise in the number of new students enrolling in the district compared to last year, but the increase in students leaving the system was greater, causing the net loss of about 10,000 kids.

That came after what appeared to be a relatively stagnant period last year with fewer students moving in and out of the district as the pandemic limited the movement families were willing or able to make. CPS last year saw thousands fewer new students entering the system and also fewer kids leaving.

The enrollment drop this year included 17,888 students leaving Chicago for out-of-city public or private schools; 3,129 children moving to Chicago private schools; and 1,393 opting for homeschooling. Another 3,408 were marked “did not arrive,” meaning they hadn’t shown up by the 20th day of school and CPS didn’t have information on their whereabouts.

All those categories either saw increases or similar numbers compared to last year. But in particular, the number of kids transferring outside the city, those who “did not arrive” and children moving to homeschooling all increased even over pre-pandemic figures.

Nader Issa breaks down the newly released data here.

More news you need

  1. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $16.7 billion budget sailed through the City Council this afternoon thanks to an avalanche of federal stimulus funds that paved the way for an unprecedented 30% increase in city spending. Fran Spielman has more on what’s in the budget here.
  2. A federal judge today rescheduled the criminal trial of Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson for Feb. 1, meaning Thompson could still face a jury less than a year after his indictment last April. Thompson is accused of lying about paying more than $170,000 in mortgage interest over five years.
  3. More than a dozen City Council members who are among the police union’s staunchest supporters have called a special meeting for Friday to consider repealing the vaccine mandate being fought tooth-and-nail by the Fraternal Order of Police. Still, 13 more must show up to form a quorum — and they’ll need eight more than that for a vote to suspend the rules and allow immediate consideration of the repeal.
  4. Chester Weger, paroled last year in the infamous Starved Rock killings after nearly six decades in prison, has won court approval to test evidence found at the scene of the 1960 murders. Weger, now 82, has said he didn’t kill anyone and that testing the evidence could prove it.
  5. The state Senate yesterday passed a repeal of a long-stalled law requiring a parent or adult family member to be notified before a minor receives an abortion. The measure also creates the Youth Health and Safety Act, which establishes a working group to ensure access to reproductive health care statewide regardless of factors like race, ethnicity, immigration status, age or economic means.
  6. Unionized nurses at Community First Medical Center on the Northwest Side have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract, averting a three-day strike that was to begin Friday. The National Nurses United union said the agreement includes wage hikes and calls for nurse-run committees to address patient care and other issues.
  7. “Windy City Rehab” star Alison Victoria Gramenos finally sold her personal Bucktown home, a property steeped in controversy, drama and legal battles — just like the show. The sale closed Monday at $2.145 million, $150,000 less than the $2.295 million price tag she originally placed on the home when it first came on the market a little over a year ago.
  8. A new exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Museum features historic images and artifacts cataloguing the LGBTQ+ rights movement. Titled “Rise Up: Stonewell and the LGBTQ Rights Movement,” the traveling exhibit looks at the gay rights movement through the lens of employment equality and faith, as well as visibility of LGBTQ Americans in pop culture.

A bright one

Seeking respite from reality, theater’s glorious return to Chicago can offer just the ticket

In search of a respite from the news cycle, Sun-Times columnist Maudlyne Ihejirika looked to the city’s local theater scene.

She found it at Teatro Zinzanni, a 2 1/2-hour feast for the senses that’s running through Nov. 28 at the downtown Cambria Hotel.

The comedic cirque show, the first to open to live audiences in the Loop after the pandemic shuttered theaters for 16 months, has been taking audiences on a riveting excursion at the enchanting Spiegeltent ZaZou — a recreation of the opulent, early 20th-century European cabaret tents known for their red velvet and brocade, mirrors, stained glass and mahogany.

Cassie Cutler and Oliver Parkinson defy gravity in Teatro Zinzanni.
Provided/Broadway In Chicago

Since this first show opened in early July, Broadway In Chicago (BIC) is back in full swing.

One of the largest commercial touring homes in the country, BIC typically draws more than 1.7 million visitors annually to its five theaters, including the Cadillac Palace, CIBC, James M. Nederlander and Auditorium Theatres.

Yesterday marked the highly anticipated opening of Heidi Schreck’s Tony Award-nominated, Pulitzer Prize finalist play “What the Constitution Means To Me,” running through Nov. 7 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

Fall offerings also include the pre-Broadway premiere of “Paradise Square,” running Nov. 2-Dec. 5 at the Nederlander.

Maudlyne Ihejirika has more on the theater scene and the players behind Teatro Zinzanni here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday we asked you: In honor of the Chicago Theatre celebrating its 100th birthday today, we want to know: What’s the best show you’ve seen there? Here’s what some of you said…

“‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ with Donny Osmond. My wife dragged me kicking and screaming. I was not going to see Donny Osmond! In fact, I was blown away with a newfound appreciation for the very talented Mr. Osmond.” — Frank Williams

“Erykah Badu and The Roots.” — Robert Byars

“Erasure 1992: The Phantasmagorical Tour. They played nearly 30 songs and did a full theater production. Colorful and amazing.” — Latham Conger III

“Frank Sinatra.” — Annette Allara

“Aretha’s last show in Chicago in 2017. Respect.” — George Beck

“The Abel Gance film ‘Napoléon’ in 1981. A silent film that had a pit orchestra directed by Carmine Coppola who wrote the music. The end of the film was a scene of a golden eagle with its wings outstretched. The Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ then played “La Marseillaise” at full volume. The audience rose to their feet.” — Philip Wizenick

“Leonard Cohen. We had folding chairs in the back. That didn’t matter one bit.” — Sandy Gulliver

“Chris Cornell, Gary Clark Jr., Joe Bonamassa and Sammy Hagar.” — Eugenio Humphrey

“Anita Baker.” — Patricia Suttles

“1. Dolly Parton because she’s a legend! 2. Arcade Fire 3. Erasure 4. All the Wilco 5. Janet Jackson.” — Kathleen McCann

“Jethro Tull, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Allman Brothers, Rodrigo y Gabriela — tough choice!” — Bob Black

“Many great ones! But the best is by far Neil Young on April 21, 2014. The tickets were the last (tangible) gift my father gave me, one week before he passed from cancer. Went with my brother and (now) husband. A truly remarkable evening for many reasons. Seeing Neil play an acoustic show in such an intimate setting was amazing. And earlier that day I left my dad in respite care and said to hubby, ‘I think this might be the last time I see him.’ So throughout the evening, I let the chords of the songs reverberate through my body.” — Kate Cohn

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