Current Issue

Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.


May 02, 2013

On page 36 of the long-awaited draft of the district’s 10-year master facilities plan is this revelation: The district will only save $437 million in capital costs by closing schools, significantly less than the original figure of $560 million.

The updated figure is the result of new assessments being done to prepare the final version of the 10-year master facilities plan, says CPS spokeswoman Kelley Quinn. Also, the $560 million figure included some mistakes that district officials have now corrected.

April 30, 2013

As CPS prepares to close dozens of schools, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has promised that none of the keys to the shuttered schools would be handed over to private charter operators.

But the district is proposing 11 co-locations, eight of which involve charters moving into buildings with traditional neighborhood schools. The proposals have reignited fears among some activists, parents and even school staff--not only about the logistics of space-sharing but that the co-locations are just a back-door way of kicking out a traditional school.

April 16, 2013

When Kansas City was faced with the prospect of three dozen empty school buildings, city officials there took the unusual step of lending the district a city planner.

December 13, 2012

When rolling out new data on school utilization, CPS officials emphasized that the number of children in the city has plummeted by 145,000 over the past 12 years, citing the figure as the major reason why the district has so many empty schools.

Meanwhile, a chorus of teachers union and community activists who oppose closings (and some media outlets) have pointed out contradictory data: The population of children in the city may be down, but CPS enrollment has declined by only about 32,000 students since the 1999-2000 school year.

December 05, 2012

Even as they released the updated list of under-utilized schools, CPS officials stressed that simply having empty space will not be the death knell for schools.

Some 330 schools are considered under-utilized by CPS, which calculates its rate based on a figure of 30 students per classroom plus ancillary rooms for art, library and special education students. District leaders refuse to say how many schools will be on the chopping block.

October 31, 2012

Nearly a year after early childhood programs sent in their applications for Illinois’ first-ever early childhood capital funding program, the $45 million in construction grants have yet to be awarded.

Why the long delay? A large number of applicants and the difficulty of managing the state’s biggest capital spending program in a decade.

September 14, 2012

CPS officials have told a state legislative committee that they will expand the criteria for closing schools this year to include under-utilization, not just long-term academic failure.

Officials also have been going out to community action councils—CPS-organized groups of community stakeholders—and giving them lists of under-utilized, low-achieving schools, as if to prepare them for what might happen.

June 18, 2012

The Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, which has long been critical of CPS school closing and turnaround decisions, announced at its Monday meeting that schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard would attend the next task force meeting July 19.

State Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-4th Dist.) says the task force is also planning a "summit" in collaboration with the Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. No date has been set, but Soto says the task force and committee will ask community members and CPS officials to join them.

February 17, 2012

Chicago has a school facilities problem.  Among its more than 600 public school buildings, 224 are enrolled at less than 50% capacity, according to the legislative task force established to examine the issue.  Many of these schools produce abysmal achievement results, and now CPS is attempting to manage its building inventory by taking certain school actions, including closing two underperforming, and under-enrolled, high schools, Crane and Dyett. 

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