The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
Most under-utilized schools in black neighborhoods: map
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.