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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Most under-utilized schools in black neighborhoods: map

Chicago Public School leaders say they will close severely underutilized schools, but have yet to identify which schools meet that criteria this year. However, schools that were on the list last year likely will remain there.

CPS officials have said that 140 schools are more than 50 percent underutilized—the benchmark it seems they are looking at for closure.

But they have not yet put out the list of schools that are in that category. Spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says that this year’s utilization rates aren't required to be available until the end of December. The only available information is from last year.

This means that next week, the Commission on School Utilization will be holding meetings in communities to get their feedback on school closings without any firm information on how many schools in the neighborhood might be targeted.

Commission Chairman Frank Clark said on Monday at the first hearing that he was hankering for a list of underutilized schools.

Last year’s data shows that about 120 schools (not including those that were closed last year, are being phased out or are in the process of adding grades) were half under-utilized.

Only seven of the schools are on the North or Northwest Side of the city. Most are on the South, Southwest and Far South Side of the city. Englewood, a neighborhood that has already seen a fair number of schools close, still has nine schools that are 50 percent under-utilized.

East Garfield Park follows as the community area with the second most severely under-utilized schools. Two of the neighborhood’s high schools—Manley and Marshall—are on that list.

As many have suspected, the closings will likely disproportionately affect black students. More than 84 percent of the students in the schools that are 50 percent under-utilized are black and 12 percent are Latino.

They also are largely low-performing schools. About 67 percent are Level 3 schools, which is the worst rating CPS hands out.

50_percent_underutilized.xls52.5 KB


Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Read Carefully!!!!!!

This list is just as misleading as the sound bite that continues to say "we have 140 schools that are less than 50% utilized". Here is the real issue. Where did you read that CPS would commit to only closing schools that are 50% or less utilized? The policy in its final version (online CPS website now) states that they will consider actions regarding any school which is underutilized. This means puts way more than 140 schools at risk!!!! I would ask that Tribune, Catalyst, and/or Sun-times to produce a list that really shows the true picture. In Springfield when Mrs. Zopp was asked for the number of schools that would close. The answer was more than 5 and less than 200. The close to 200 is perhaps the real number. We are listening to sound bites and asking the wrong questions. The questions should be. Will CPS commit to only look at schools with 50% or less utilization? If they won't what is the real threshold?

skarp wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Entire list of schools by utilization

About 310 schools are rated as underutilized and, based on the criteria any of them could be closed. However, CPS leaders have stressed that 140 schools are half underutilized. Because CPS leaders have emphasized the 50 percent benchmark, it leads reporters and others to believe that it is important. Also, Catalyst has previously published the list of all schools by last year's utilization rate and performance. It is attached to this story.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

More than 5 schools and less than 200

Thank you for the excellent follow up. CPS is stressing one thing however the written policy is indicating another. For instance, as you look at the 140 schools that CPS is stressing as underutilized, you will notice that many of the AUSL schools and several schools that were created with the understanding of them maintaing a small enrollment were included. They are not going anywhere. My point is, the devil is in the details. When CPS begins to engage the community, it my hope that the community will ask some pointed questions. There are 310 schools that are at risk and the policy that governs this has a lot of wiggle room and qualifiers that are vague and/or subject to simply personal preference. Zopp's comment of more than 5 and less than 200 is quite revealing and of course, troubling.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Smoke and Mirrors...Again

I say let the charters take the place of ALL the neighborhood schools. Once they see that the charters can't control students X, Y, and Z, or their parents, the truth will be revealed. Sure, there are some teachers who shouldn't be anywhere near a classroom, but that's in every profession. In fact, I can name a few people in just about every profession who should QUIT or be FIRED! The bulk of CPS teachers are qualified and have the compassion for teaching. It's just that they aren't teaching Opey Taylor or Richie Cunningham anymore. And the parents aren't the Cleavers or the Cunninghams. Our country is changing and changing fast! If Rahm doesn't understand that, or if he is too cowardly to admit that, then oh, well. The scores won't change much if at all. Can you say 1-term?

O.T. Bright Parent wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

O.T. Bright Elementary school's principal is the problem

It is so upsetting to see O.T. Bright elementary on the list of under-utilized schools. Even more upsetting is the knowledge that principal Millicent Clyburn is to blame. Clyburn bullied our best and brightest teachers, including Golden Apple award winners, so much that they all left. Parent after parent got fed up with Clyburn's erractic and combative leadership so they took there children to other schools. I wish CPS had stepped in and given us a new principal, one with ethics and a professional demeanor. Now, Bright elementary is officially under-utilized and might end up getting closed.

Libby B. wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

A hidden gem

Libby Elementary is in the list, but what the numbers don't tell is:
an atmosphere of high expectations where students constantly check their grades online; a mix of old and new high-energy teachers who like each other; a principal who sets high standards and empowers teacher decision making; a robust arts program consisting of art, drama, music and dance; an peaceful ocean of calm in one of the roughest areas of the city. It is a wonderful place to work, and many students take the bus to get here, so their parent must feel the same way.

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