Become a Catalyst member

Celebrating 25 years of Catalyst


Join the conversation

We encourage our readers to leave comments and engage in dialogue about our stories. But before you do, please check out our "rules of the road."

Subscribe to by e-mail feeds

Current Issue

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.

School closing list pared down

Now, 129 elementary schools are on the possible closure list.

Late Wednesday afternoon, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that she has officially shaved the list by agreeing to some of the recommendations of the Commission on School Utilization and taking heed of the feedback at community meetings. 

She used nine criteria to remove schools, including ones that are high-achieving, have more than 600 students and are more than a mile from another school that can accept them.

Eight of the 129 schools have been turnarounds in previous years, a process in which the principal and most of the staff are replaced and the school receives a significant financial investment. Six of them are run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a not-for-profit that has done much of the turnaround work.

The communities that stand to be hardest hit are the same predominantly-black neighborhoods that have experienced the bulk of prior closings. Englewood has 19 schools still on the list, Grand Boulevard has 15 and the Far South Side and West Humboldt Park each have 14.

Initially, CPS officials said that all underutilized schools were in danger of being closed and they identified 330 as underutilized.

“This will alleviate the tension the tension for 200 schools,” Byrd-Bennett said.

The new list is the last before Byrd-Bennett publishes her final closing recommendations to be voted on by the Board of Education. By state law, she must do this before March 31. Byrd-Bennett insisted again on Wednesday that she does not know how many schools will be on the final proposed list.

A second round of community hearings is starting Wednesday night in a church in Austin. Austin has seven schools still on the list and North Lawndale, which is in the same network, has nine. 

 Byrd-Bennett said she now will be looking for the parents, school staff and community members to explain to her why the remaining schools are in the predicament they are in—underutilized and low-achieving. She would like to hear about issues of school leadership, teacher turnover and professional development.

“I want to know, how do they expect to address these issues?” Byrd-Bennett said. “I do not want to be interpreted as saying they are at fault. I just want them to explain their current situation.”  

Byrd-Bennett said she also wants information on the dangers that children from a school could be subjected to, should it close. She said she will not close a school if she believes there are safety issues.

However, she disagreed with the not on that the criteria for determining the final list will be subjective. Byrd-Bennett said she is using “stacks of data” to make her final decision. 


Most of the reasons used to whittle down the list, Byrd-Bennett had already agreed to, such as not closing high schools or high-achieving elementary schools. But she reiterated Wednesday that, if schools in those categories are in disrepair, she still might relocate or close them.

The Commission on School Utilization also recommended that Byrd-Bennett remove schools that have more than 600 students, those that are close to their capacity and those that are trending upward.  Byrd-Bennett also accepted these recommendations and she had her staff work on definitions for “trending upward” and “close to efficiency.”

Adam Anderson, chief of the office of portfolio, planning and strategy, said that additional criteria were added specifically because of what people said during community meetings. Many told CPS officials that their schools were far from other schools. Others said nearby schools were at capacity.

“What we said is that if you are isolated by more than a mile or [there is] no school nearby had space, we want to give parents assurance that we will not close that school,” he said. 

Anderson and Byrd-Bennett also insisted that students from closed schools will be given the option to enroll in a higher-performing school.


School Name Geographic Area
COOK Auburn Gresham
GRESHAM Auburn Gresham
JACKSON, M Auburn Gresham
MORGAN Auburn Gresham
RYDER Auburn Gresham
GREEN Auburn Gresham
EMMET Austin
KEY Austin
LEWIS Austin
MAY Austin
GRAHAM Bridgeport - Chinatown
MCCLELLAN Bridgeport - Chinatown
ATTUCKS Bronzeville
BURKE Bronzeville
CARTER Bronzeville
DRAKE Bronzeville
FULLER Bronzeville
MAYO Bronzeville
MOLLISON Bronzeville
OVERTON Bronzeville
ROBINSON Bronzeville
WELLS, I Bronzeville
WILLIAMS ES Bronzeville
WOODSON Bronzeville
HENDRICKS Bronzeville
ASHE Chatham
CLAREMONT Chicago Lawn
ALTGELD Englewood
BANNEKER Englewood
BONTEMPS Englewood
DAVIS, M Englewood
EARLE Englewood
GOODLOW Englewood
HINTON Englewood
HOLMES Englewood
LANGFORD Englewood
MAYS Englewood
O'TOOLE Englewood
STAGG Englewood
WOODS Englewood
DEWEY Englewood
LIBBY Englewood
PARKMAN Englewood
SHERMAN Englewood
YALE Englewood
LAWRENCE Far East Side
ALDRIDGE Far South Side
CARVER , G Far South Side
GOMPERS Far South Side
METCALFE Far South Side
OWENS Far South Side
PULLMAN Far South Side
SONGHAI Far South Side
WHISTLER Far South Side
FERNWOOD Far South Side
GARVEY Far South Side
HUGHES, L Far South Side
KOHN Far South Side
SHOOP Far South Side
BEIDLER Garfield - West Humboldt
BETHUNE Garfield - West Humboldt
CALHOUN Garfield - West Humboldt
DELANO Garfield - West Humboldt
ERICSON Garfield - West Humboldt
GARFIELD PARK Garfield - West Humboldt
GOLDBLATT Garfield - West Humboldt
MARCONI Garfield - West Humboldt
MELODY Garfield - West Humboldt
PICCOLO Garfield - West Humboldt
RYERSON Garfield - West Humboldt
TILTON Garfield - West Humboldt
WARD, L Garfield - West Humboldt
WEBSTER Garfield - West Humboldt
DUPREY Humboldt Park
LAFAYETTE Humboldt Park
VON HUMBOLDT Humboldt Park
CANTER Hyde Park
REAVIS Hyde Park
MANIERRE Lincoln Park
LOZANO Near North
PEABODY Near North
BROWN, W Near West
DETT Near West
KING Near West
SMYTH Near West
CHALMERS North Lawndale
CROWN North Lawndale
HENSON North Lawndale
HERZL North Lawndale
HUGHES, C North Lawndale
LAWNDALE North Lawndale
MASON North Lawndale
PENN North Lawndale
POPE North Lawndale
JUNGMAN Pilsen - Little Village
PADEREWSKI Pilsen - Little Village
PILSEN Pilsen - Little Village
STEWART Ravenswood
STOCKTON Ravenswood
TRUMBULL Ravenswood
MADISON South Shore
O'KEEFFE South Shore
PARKSIDE South Shore
POWELL South Shore
REVERE South Shore
WARREN South Shore
FERMI Woodlawn
FISKE Woodlawn
ROSS Woodlawn
SEXTON Woodlawn
TILL Woodlawn


Northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Of course

Ok maybe I am sounding "selfish" but not a mention about we the teacher who will lose our jobs and have to beg and steal and grovel for our jobs back. don't worry about our families. let's face it....we teachers are probably about a few paychecks away from the poverty that our students face...yet we have no acccess to link cards, free medicine. what about us BBB? I know the rhetoric about "teachers will follow the students"...whatever ...

they will do all in their power to keep us out. especially the "troublemaker" teachers who some how fell out of favor with some principal. Rahm gets so upset if a factory closed down...but doesnt seem to worry that 1000s of teachers will lose their jobs stuck with a Chicago mortgage? Aren't teachers and their families families? Are we somehow immunue to poverty?? Honestly, where is our compassion!!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

What about the tax payers

What about the tax payers with all these schools closing Mr Mayor will you contnuie to steal our taxe dollars ?

northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

tax payers

Teachers are tax payers and we donate our time and money to schools

Joe Ames wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

Life will continue on . Students in low performing schools which have been continuing to be low performing will get get a better education. Money can be saved and not wasted. Buildings are too expensive to be renovated. Students do not need all that space to roam in. This is the right sizing thing to do. This has been festing too long. It is time to be corrected.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Here is a Link to the Lawndale Alliance Remarks

I attended last night's public hearing for the Austin-North Lawndale Network. I wasn't allowed to speak given time constraints. Here is a link to remarks I prepared on behalf of the Lawndale Alliance.

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Never were there 330 schools that were truly underutilized

It seems to me that the possible closing list was effectively reduced from about 180 down to 129. That is not a massive reduction. Even if the list is reduced again by half we are still discussing a lot of elementary schools.

Trumbull which is on the list is the home school for where we live. Very few of the school aged children on our block attend Trumbull and there would be limited impact on that level. There is another elementary school relatively close by that could take most of the students that are east of the school.

But yesterday I was informed that Trumbull which is a special education cluster site currently has 8 full self contained rooms with more disabled students. That presents a far greater logistical problem. I know that the next closest elementary schools Trumbull between them do not have 8 full empty rooms. So it would mean that some of these schools would have to close down rooms currently being used for other purposes like computer classes or maybe even libraries if all these self contained classes were moved to the closest schools.

This is going to be a very difficult process.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Our children can not afford this continued upheaval in their educational experience, which a has been going on since the 1970s and early 80s (teacher strikes every year) and onward with chromic administrative turnover and educational initiatives (which were based on research, however they were poorly implemented by administrators and mis-communicated to teachers). Will this chronic systemic and organizational failure with CPS ever end and we get to the business of educating our children?

Ted Monroe wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Under Utilized

Special ed students can be bussed. So much crying is for comfort. Parents will have to get up and take their children to school. This is an urban area; not the surburbs. Communities are already broken, because a lot of people don't even know nor communicate with their neighbor next door. And as far as the gang territory. The gangs are spread all over the city. They travel and drive around too. Mishaps are happening in own neighborhoods from within neighborhoods. Reasons given for the need to close under utilized schools has a lot to do with there not being enough money to run them. They have to be fixed. Everyone cannot be pleased. As for teachers and Principals and Assistant Principals; they are not any better than the staff who have already lost their jobs. They just have to find other means of surviving. In schools where they are Level3 on probation on and on; this cannot continue to go on. It does not continue in other states. It seem vast; because Chicago is a big city. But a lot of the reasons why there is so much crime in this city is because probation schools are just getting a paycheck. That is not what being a good teacher or administrator is about. If you are in that school it should not be on probation. Those children in Level 3 schools are missing out on the same education as students in Level 1 and Level 2 schools. They deserve the best also. If this changes the crime rate will go down. After all an idle mind is a devil's workshop. BBB had a better view of the problem at Cps because she was not a part of the problem. It also stemmed from downtown at 125. It stemmed from within the LSC whom have been affliated with the downward spiral of administration at these probation for so long schools. These Principals should have been given failing evaluations. You are not suppose to get a superior rating and your school is failing. If the Principal's school is failing they are suppose to get an unsatisfactory rating and the administration changes. This has not been happening. So what really has been going on at schools. At some schools there should be a screening of the LSC members. Some schools do not hold meetings; do not make parents aware of meetings; do not have enough members on the LSC to have a functioning LSC. This too should be checked into. Certain Principals thought they had it made because they have had friends down at 125 that covered up corruption for them. But their friends won't be able to help them anymore. There are a lot of new faces at 125 and they are here for the just. They are here to right size the education of Chicago's children. Once all is in place; the students will have better resources and environment to learn in. A lot of schools that are on probation don't even have books for students; and for a Principal to get up and brag about computer labs at their schools. Children need to know how to read manually. Computers fail sometimes. After graduation this is when the greatest application to computers will last a life time. Students never get an opportunity to read at some schools. Some Principals need to slow down and pace themselves with students' learning. Now just push them on. After all; a rolling stone gathers no moss. This has been happening in a lot of Probation Level 3 schools. It is time for a change. New teachers need to teach children with books. Give the students the resources to work with after the changes. BBB straighten out Cps. Eliminate poor administration.

Ed Dziedzic wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Where are you getting your information?

Mr. Monroe, what makes you think that teachers in Tier 3 schools work less hard than anyone else? If you switched all of the Tier 1 and Tier 3 teachers there would be very little difference. The kids would all be the same, and often the Tier 3 teachers work harder with fewer resources. Please stop blaming the teachers.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


How about some of my taxes going into a fund for private and Catholic (and other religious) school scholarships for students who can not afford the tuition. As a taxpayer, I wouldn't have a problem with funding schools that offer excellent educational opportunities in calm, productive, engaging learning environments for students without all of the administrative upheavals, screaming community members, unnecessarily stressed students because of the adults, striking teachers, and general chaos that passes for public education in Chicago - most of which is being funded by my taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Ted, So much of the crying is


So much of the crying is for comfort because the only major effect of school closures is extreme discomfort for entire communities.

In the last round of school closings and charter openings of this scale (REN2010), researchers found that closing schools had no significant effect on student achievement, and that most students transferred to schools that were academically equal to the closed school.

On top of that the closures were concentrated in low-income communities of color, as they are again, with a high possibility that some kids are going through this process for a second time. Herzl Elementary was turned around by AUSL in Sept. and now is on the list for closure.

"Reasons given for the need to close under utilized schools has a lot to do with there not being enough money to run them."

CPS completed last year with a surplus of $328 million after claiming a $241 mil deficit. They manufacture budget crisises to justify closures.

You say "Eliminate poor administration" but CPS always does that, there have been 5 CEOs in 5 years, they come and go with the wind.

Eric wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Remember REN2010?


So much of the crying is for comfort because the only major effect of school closures is extreme discomfort for entire communities.

In the last round of school closings and charter openings of this scale (REN2010), researchers found that closing schools had no significant effect on student achievement, and that most students transferred to schools that were academically equal to the closed school.

On top of that the closures were concentrated in low-income communities of color, as they are again, with a high possibility that some kids are going through this process for a second time. Herzl Elementary was turned around by AUSL in Sept. and now is on the list for closure.

"Reasons given for the need to close under utilized schools has a lot to do with there not being enough money to run them."

CPS completed last year with a surplus of $328 million after claiming a $241 mil deficit. They manufacture budget crisises to justify closures.

You say "Eliminate poor administration" but CPS always does that, there have been 5 CEOs in 5 years, they come and go with the wind.

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Who ever Ted Monroe is I doubt he has a disabled kid

Mr. Monroe to talk about students with disabilities as if they are packages to be bused anywhere is one of the more disturbing comments I have read on the Catalyst site ever. I am glad that the CPS special education administrative staff that will be charged with the difficult task of relocating these students if their schools are closed have a far greater sense of humanity than was exhibited in your post.

My own disabled child was bused every day for seven years from Foster near the lake to Central and Fullerton. It wasn't fun for her or us, there were winter days she was on the bus for two hours in each direction. There were days when the wheel chair lifts on the bus broke and the students never even made it to school. Busing children with disabilities is not a simple task and the shortest distance possible is the best distance possible.

Rod Estvan

Observer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Interesting and critical questions from Seth Lavin @cpsobsessed

"Questions Seth has for CPS regarding the closings:

1) You’ve estimated $500K in savings per closed school. Does this mean closing 100 schools solves only 5% of the $1B CPS budget deficit?

2) What data exist that shows closing underperforming schools results in academic gains for students?

3) You say we have a “utilization crisis.” What data shows that a school’s being “underutilized” hurts student achievement?

4) Chicago Consortium on Schools Research says in 94% of cases kids from closed Chicago schools didn’t go to “academically strong” new schools. Will this be different?

5) Will you guarantee that no students from closed Level 3 schools will go to another Level 3 school?

6) You say CPS mishandled its last round of 10 closings. Will you share your analysis of what went wrong, and how this will be different?

7) Given that you included 5 of last year’s 10 turnaround schools on the new possible closings list, do you regret those turnarounds?

8) Will you present your plan for where kids from each closed school will go before deciding whether or not each school will close?

9) Have you hired management consultants to assist you in vetting schools for inclusion on the closings list? If so, who are they?

10) How many CPS staff members are currently working on transition plans for 5,792 students with IEPs that may be impacted by closings?"

SARAH: Can you get the answers for these questions?

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Re: Question 10

Because CPS the special education administrative team does not yet know which schools will be closed and which schools will not be closed it can't look at individual IEP related issues as yet, or prorgam based issues for self-contained classrooms for more significantly disabled students. But on the big scale CPS has already allocated one sigificant staff person full time to over see the special education component of any closing process. CPS identified this staff person to the special education advocacy community (lawyers, advocates, and even some people from Raise Your Hand) several weeks ago at a meeting held at Access Living's offices.

I have been brought into this discussion and CPS has listened to my various objections and concerns of which I have many. It would be unfair on my part to reveal all the discussions because at this time even the frame work for a transition process is far from complete. But I do think it is important that Seith's very legitimate question be addressed to the extent that it can be at this time and I have done the best I can.

I am not sure all will go well with the transition process for students with IEPs in the case of school closings, in particular if CPS goes big in the number of schools closed. But I can assure you all CPS is not oblivious to the complex situation it faces. As most of you know I have repeatedly stated that Access Living does not agree with the way CPS measured utilization in relation to rooms housing self-contained special education programs, I don't need to repeat that yet again.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Detroit has empty schools rotting away all over that town and th

school district is completely under water. Closing the schools did not save that district.
Ask our CEO, she ran that school district while it was collapsing.

close observer wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Closing schools is designed

Closing schools is designed to destroy the CTU and CPS. Teachers will lose jobs, and children will lose their teachers. If you close 10 schools and think you are impacting only the 2,000-3,000 kids there, make that number 6,000-10,000 that will be effected. The receiving schools will have to absorb the new students, programs will be changed, rooms for special classes lost, etc. Mass closings will lead to disaster, and it seems that BBB has experience in fostering such conditions, with no remorse. And where will BBB ( and Rahm) be in 5 years? Chicago? I doubt it.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School closings

All the CPS primary schools within a 2 mile radius of my house are on the closing list. So, what school is within a mile that will accept the students? Are we talking private, catholic, charter??? This sounds like lies to me. I don't buy it.
My child attends a magnet across town - has a spot I fought long and hard to get. Is his education going to be disrupted further (still suffering ill effects from the strike) by the addition of under performing students from closed schools?

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

I believe there was a specification near the bottom of the school closing information that mentioned sthat ome of the schools on the list, if removed, could become a welcoming school (receiving school for failing students). It also mentioned grade alignment. This was a notation at the bottom of the announcement of 129 schools.

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

Correction: "that some" not sthat ome

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago
Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Hum. Well, isn't this a bit if a sticky wicket? And students are the ones suffering the most as a result of this madness they call public education in Chicago. So, as a highly trained educator, here are some recommendations for thought: (a) organize a parent and community member organization whose goal is to raise funding for scholarships to provide for students to attend private, Catholic, of other religious schools; (b) another funding arm of the organization can go toward providing funding for students to receive academic support outside of their public schools, so they can test get into the academically challenging private and Catholic schools on scholarship and pass these state exams, PSAE, ACT, SAT, among others; (c) draft a contract of expectations of students and parents receiving support from the organization, (d) lobby our state legislators to change the taxing structure for public education. I am tired of paying for multiple decades of chronic failure of a public system in Chicago. Once, the organization is up and running, you won't have to deal with their mess, chaos, and confusion; ALL OF OUR CHILDREN's educational opportunities will be much better not just a few that won a lottery.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Here's another radical idea that the organization can do:
1. As a result of the extreme violence in Chicago, and the fiscal challenges of Illinois, the organization can (for a few parents and students who can demonstrate a high level of need and commitment to the process) provide funding for families to relocate outside of Illinois. The organization would work with parents and businesses to ensure that the parents have a job in the new state upon their arrival and their children have the option if attending the private or Catholic schools on their new state for which the organization would provide scholarships for students in their new state.

Ed Dziedzic wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Here is a suggestion. Have charters and private schools publicize their test scores by law like public schools do. Then send all of the students from poor, violent, blighted areas to Anonymous' house for special tutoring since he apparently knows everything. Unfortunately, he does not have the guts to put his name on his brilliant suggestions.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


I would put my name on this because....? That's what politicians and highly paid administrators are for and get paid to deal with the mess. That's above my pay grade. No, thank you, Sir. I'll pass.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Interesting. Pay Taxpayer a king's random and I'll bet Taxpayer would not put their name on their ideas, but even put their face on a billboard like the former Alderman of the 7th Ward. I'm sure Taxpayer has been to the dentist and may even have a powerful educational background to boot. I hope people like Taxpayer consider political office, they may be able to do some good. Maybe, Taxpayer can run for an Aldermanic spot in a couple of years. I sure wish Taxpayer lived in the 7th Ward.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

What's up with the anonymous writers?

I decided not to respond to anymore post by anonymous people.If you are so scared, why post anything?

Don wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Question about the list

I might be stupid, but I don't understand the numbers besides the heading on the closing list.
For Englewood, what does "42 to 19" mean? Aren't they proposing closing 19 schools, meaning that the area would go from 42 to 23 schools?
As far as the footnote, they seem to be simply indicating that people shouldn't infer that simple closing are the only possible action. Personally I like that BBB has stated several times that there shouldn't be too much emphasis on school buildings. The best choice for a good staff in a bad building may be to move.

Joe American wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


Thanks, "politics". Actually, I do live in the 7th. If and when I decide to run or get paid for my ideas, then I'll put my name on it. Shucks, might even have a ticker tape parade down Michigan Avenue to heard the new organization, but until then I'll just keep paying my taxes, not cooking the books, and letting the paid politicos and boss people take the heat.

Roger North wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

Soon the school closings will be a thing of the past. Students will be able to continue with their education in new settings next year. Sometimes change is good. The schools should never had gotten in all of these years of being on probation. Principals at some of these school closing meetings have not gotten up there and told the audience or public that their schools have 0.2 percent of students meeting test scores. They have not been true to the public. Parents need to go online and look up the information about their child's school. Very low performance for many. Students cannot continue to be serviced pooly from poor administration and staff. A big pity ploy some Principals are using is I have computer rooms at my school. You only need 1 computer lab and about 4 computers in the classroom. Those classrooms are classified as under utilized( because there are no children in those rooms at some schools. Those rooms at some schools in the Pershing Network have been covered with desk and chairs to make it look like the schools are utilized. But again being under utilized means you don't have enough children.

Add your comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
go here for more