CPS targets just one school with no kids in first year after closing moratorium
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In the first round of school actions after a five-year moratorium on closing schools ended, Chicago Public Schools officials announced Friday they’ll seek to close just one Englewood high school already empty of students.
TEAM Englewood High School ended up enrolling zero students this fall, though it was granted a stay of execution to remain open a few more years until its few remaining students crossed the graduation stage. TEAM was one of four Englewood schools CPS was going to close to make room for a brand new high school in that South Side neighborhood that’ll open in fall 2019.
Those students, just 47 as of June, “voluntarily” left TEAM, according to CPS, leaving CPS to formally shutter the school, if only now on paper.
The Board of Education must approve the actions and will vote as early as February, CPS said. Community meetings will be held on from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Kershaw Elementary, 6450 S. Lowe on January 8 and 17. A final public hearing will be held at CPS headquarters, 42 W. Madison, on Jan. 30.
In response to the news, the Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement slamming CPS.
“The district’s formula has long been to work hand-in-hand with City Hall to starve communities of resources. … and play the ‘underutilization’ card to justify its intent to close schools and uproot our students and their families.”
Officials also will ask the Board of Education to approve boundary changes for Orozco Community Academy and Cooper Elementary, which share a boundary in Pilsen. Currently, Cooper serves students in preschool through 5th grades who move to Orozco for the rest of elementary school. The boundary changes will expand Cooper to 8th grade by the end of the 2021-22 school year for anyone who lives in its boundary, and let Orozco expand its regional gifted program open to English language learners.
Those hearings will take place at 6 p.m. on January 9 at Orozco, 1940 W 18th St., and on January 16 at Cooper, 1624 W. 19th St.
CPS also has named three poor-performing charter and contract schools as eligible for closure in June, but those privately-managed schools fall under different state law. Whether schools officials move to actually close any of them will be announced sometime next week.
Before closing a record 50 schools in 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second CPS CEO promised not to close any schools for five years. Officials, however, have since found ways to shut down schools when they wanted to, such as a military high school they also claimed no one wanted to attend anymore, a special ed school they counseled students out of, and one of the Englewood high schools district leaders insisted originated with the community.
They’ve also closed National Teachers Academy elementary school so they could turn its building into a new South Loop high school, though a Cook County judge is set to rule on that Monday.