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For the Record: School closing logistics

As news of the recommended school closings has settled in, parents have raised two logistical concerns: The distance that children will have to walk to their new schools and the impact of adding new students on the utilization of receiving schools.  

On both fronts, some scenarios present reason for concern.

A Catalyst Chicago analysis of CPS utilization data shows that in eight instances, the receiving school will be more than 100 percent over capacity if the current enrollment of the closing and receiving schools combines. In another eight cases, the building will be at more than 90 percent at capacity. (See school-by-school info in an Excel file below)

However, CPS officials might be anticipating that a certain percentage of students will not attend the designated welcoming school. (The spring issue of Catalyst In Depth found that less than half of students ended up at the designated welcoming school last year, but only four schools were shuttered at the time.)

Attached to the letter informing parents of the proposal to close their schools was an application to open enrollment and magnet cluster schools, leading some parents to believe that CPS wants them to go elsewhere. However, CPS officials said they just want to give parents options.

Using Mapquest, Catalyst also analyzed the walking distances between the closing and receiving schools. Twenty-nine of the 54 schools are more than half a mile apart. Nine are more than 0.8 miles apart—the length at which busing will kick in.

The nine schools are Bethune, Bontemps, King, Overton, Lawrence, Canter, Kohn, Ericson and Trumbull.

There’s a big caveat about busing, however: Transportation is only guaranteed to the children who are currently at closing schools, not future students who will be assigned to the receiving schools from the old attendance areas of the closing schools.

This week, parents and activists gathered on the 5th floor of City Hall to invite Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to walk with them from closing schools that are particularly far from welcoming schools, past vacant buildings and corners that are hubs of drug dealing.

“We are asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to walk the walk so he can see the distance,” said Cecile Carroll, co-director of Blocks Together, an advocacy organization in West Humboldt Park. Every Tuesday, the group will walk from one school to another, starting at King Elementary on the Near West Side. King students will be reassigned to Jensen in East Garfield Park, 0.8 miles away.

When Ryerson parent Torrence Shorter implored Emanuel on Tuesday to walk with parents from one closing building to another, he noted that even if every student shows up at their newly assigned school, accommodating all of them would require the school to get rid of amenities, like a fitness room that was installed by the Chicago Bulls.

Ward, he notes, is the bigger building. Yet, under the school district’s plan, Ryerson students are staying put—even though their school program is shutting down—and Ward’s students are coming to Ryerson’s building—even though their school is not closing. According to district utilization data, Ryerson’s ideal design capacity is 690 students.

Currently, Ward and Ryerson have a combined enrollment of 797 students. The 8th-graders will graduate, but one would expect new kindergarteners to arrive and take classroom space.

In addition, Ryerson sits on a stretch of Ohio Street where drug-dealing happens on a regular basis.

Parents also balked at some of the sweeteners promised by CPS. LaTonya Butts said Bret Harte, in Hyde Park, will need an air conditioner when the 7th- and 8th-grade students from Canter arrive. (Harte is already considered efficient by CPS utilization standards.) “They will be packed in,” she said. “Our children are not cattle.”


distance_and_capacity.xls52 KB


Northside wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

I remember

I remember one time I added my daughter to my insurance then then CPS took my husband off my insurance.

I remember when I was a new teacher they still paid me like a sub

I can't tell you how many new students I have gotten from CPS schools and never got their records.

Our schools SPENDS weeks and MONTHS begging for physicals and emergency forms. How are they going to deal with this issue?

Parents send their kids to school on day's off?

One school uses one text book another school uses none? how will they add apples and oranges?

People didn't send their kids kids to school until Septmeber when we switched to the new Track E schedule. Now we are switching back. How are they going to deal with this issue?

These are just a few snafus. I just CANT imagine that logistical nightmare we are going to see.

John Kugler wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago

bbb on the way out

trible B replacement coming to Chicago. In what looks the like the end game for the ohio resident running the Chicago schools, Substance News has gotten word that Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) Superintendent Tony Smith is moving to Chicago to take care of his ailing father. this guy is a master of parent messaging and union busting. reported on substance news website

Quit Pretending wrote 1 year 40 weeks ago


"The Chicago Board of Education always listens to our input and adjusts its initial plans accordingly," said not one teacher, parent, or student ever. For the past 30 years, at least, CPS has not once in my memory done anything collaboratively with the community of teachers, parents, and students. The rest of the country may wonder why Chicago teachers had to strike so often, but Chicago Public Schools veterans know why.

Valerie F.Leonard wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago

Thanks, Sarah!!!

Thanks for this report, and for providing these data, Sarah!! We understand from testimony from Alderman Munoz regarding closing Paderewski, that neither Cardenas, nor Castellanos have the capacity to absorb all of Paderewski's students, particularly in the lower grades.

Laura wrote 1 year 39 weeks ago


I have had three different birthdays in my 10 years with the board. Picking up prescriptions was like a guessing game. To be fair, though, my current birthday is the real one.

rakhaa wrote 8 weeks 6 days ago

tank you veryyy much man for

tank you veryyy much man for this post is nice work games girls 2014 العاب تلبيس

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