In the ongoing battle over Chicago Public School closures, the district is putting a glossy sheen on the news thousands of the city's children — most of them black or Latino — will see their neighborhood schools shuttered as they're moved to a new "welcoming" school this year.
In an interview with NBC Chicago (embedded), CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett trumpeted new school enhancements geared toward making the transition for displaced students easier post-consolidation.
(UPDATE: Later Wednesday, the Sun-Times reported that CPS on Thursday will formally announce their plans to close about 50 of the district's elementary schools.)
Despite a projected $1 billion budget deficit for next school year, the district is promising new resources for the receiving schools, including air conditioning in every classroom, new discretionary funding, science labs and library support, according to ABC Chicago.
The new resources, which would only affect the receiving schools, are also said to include more "wrap-around" services like security, special education needs and social work support, reports CBS Chicago.
According to the Sun-Times, Byrd-Bennett claims savings from closing the underperforming or underutilized schools will be enough to cover the costs.
CPS is claiming it will only take two years for it to recoup the costs of moving children to new schools and improving the receiving buildings. The district, however, demurred on specific figures, citing the list of schools to close has yet to be finalized. The list is due by March 31 but expected sooner so that Byrd-Bennett can make recommendations.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers had proposed a moratorium on closing any of the city's schools until 2015 but hit a delay earlier this week, according to the Associated Press.
Parents have also been digging in their heels over the closures, adding their voices to a series of explosive community hearings on the closures.
Byrd-Bennett, however, told NBC delaying the decision would be "criminal."
"It is really important for us not to defer these decisions any longer," the CEO said. "We've got at least two decades of decay, of children not being able to receive the kind of education that they should."