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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fewer Neighborhood Schools Exist in CPS

Throughout the city, many Chicago Public Schools are getting education makeovers. Failing or under-enrolled schools are being closed and new ones opened, sometimes even within the same building. The Chicago Board of Education is scheduled to vote tomorrow on where next fall’s new schools will open up. But the whole process leaves some parents and education activists questioning the correlation between urban planning and school planning.
Here's more:
Still, the district is closing Abbott for low enrollment. So Michael will now be sent to Hendricks Elementary, an underperforming school several blocks away.

Jim Dispensa is head of demographics and planning for Chicago Public Schools.

DISPENSA: The direction that we go in depends on a lot of things including where we are budgetarily and the outcomes of this continuing discussions with community groups. It’s premature to say where we are with transition plans.

But Andrea Lee doesn’t buy that argument. Lee is with the Grand Boulevard Federation, a neighborhood nonprofit. The group argues closing Abbott is short-sighted. That’s because Abbott’s enrollment would have gone up, Lee says, as soon as families started moving back into nearby Wentworth Gardens. The recently rehabbed development is only 63 percent occupied right now.

LEE: One of the most concerning things is that CPS isn’t doing any balanced facilities and community planning. Meaning as the public housing and they close schools that are under-enrolled or low performing they are giving their school facilities away.

Lee and others have been fighting to get the district to create a task force that would examine how families like Tanya Whitehead’s are impacted by the lack of coordination between school closings and urban development. There’s a bill currently in Springfield that would do just that.
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