CHICAGO

CPS School Closings Guidelines Announced As New CEO Promises To Include Community Input

11/01/2012 02:11 pm ET | Updated Nov 01, 2012

Chicago Public Schools said Wednesday no schools are currently slated for closing, but maintained half of the district's schools are "underused," with nearly 140 schools sitting half empty.

CPS' recently-announced draft guidelines are supposed to help determine which schools can be closed, consolidated or otherwise phased-out.

Per the new guidelines, however, schools won't close based on performance as they have in the past, WBEZ notes.

A September editorial by the Sun-Times indicated school closings were all but inevitable with the school systing facing "an estimated $1 billion deficit next year."

Those who, like the Sun-Times, called for the district to be "more open and inclusive" may be getting their wish with the approach new CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is taking. Per CPS' Wednesday press release on the new guidelines:

"CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett stressed that these are only draft guidelines and that no decisions have been made on any school actions, and that no schools have yet been placed on any lists. She also underscored that a rigorous community engagement process must be implemented before she allows any actions to move forward."

The Chicago Teachers Union supports Byrd-Bennett's attitude toward seeking community input, reports WGN. In previous years, voices of families and teachers have largely been excluded from the decision-making process.

"[Community members] deserve to be real partners in the tough decisions that need to be made about how we can better invest in our children and their future," said Byrd-Bennett in a statement. "If I don't have the confidence that this can be done right by Dec. 1, then we won't be moving forward with recommendations at that time."

Byrd-Bennett denied the growth of charter schools in the city as a factor in school closings, reports the Tribune.

"I'm setting high standards for my team to ensure we are engaging the community in a meaningful and respectful way by Dec. 1 and I will make a decision on our next steps shortly," said Byrd-Bennett. "I must have total confidence in this process."

The Battle Over Chicago's Schools
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