Chicago Public Schools have until Dec. 1 to offer up a list of schools to close or consolidate, but officials have asked for an extension in hopes of making "more informed decisions around school actions."
On Friday, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she planned to seek the extension, with a proposed new deadline of March 31. Just two days earlier, the district released draft guidelines for potential school closings or consolidations.
Byrd-Bennett said in a statement issued Friday,
“Our goal is to give the community the respect they deserve in this process, rebuild trust with CPS and create a path for right-sizing our district so that we can better invest resources in every child and every school in our city.”
Last year, the district's guidelines for closings zeroed in on academically failing schools, reports the Tribune. This year, the guidelines focus on schools that are "underused," as the district says.
The new CEO has assembled a nine-member Commission on School Utilization that includes a state senator, a Chicago alderman, a community pastor, a former CPD superintendent, teachers and a CPS parent.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis knew beforehand of the extension plans, reports the Sun-Times and praised the CEO's intentions while disagreeing on the end result.
“She clearly would like to take some time and make some decisions better, but I don’t believe we should change the law because they had a change in leadership,” Lewis said of the new CEO in the Sun-Times. "If Dec. 1 comes and you haven’t made a decision, then the decision should be, you shouldn’t do any school closings this year.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has defended Byrd-Bennett’s decision to seek an extension, reports CBS Chicago.