Chicago to Close 53 Elementary Schools

Teachers' union fumes over deficit-fighting move

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 22, 2013 7:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Chicago yesterday released a long-awaited school closings list, which named the 61 buildings it plans to shutter. The Tribune breaks down the "confusing" math behind the closure announcement, and reports that the plan will spell the end for 53 elementary schools; 13% of elementary and middle schools in the third-biggest US school district will be affected. It comes as part of an effort to address a $1 billion budget deficit, and will touch 30,000 students. "I know that this will not be easy, but I also know that in the end this will benefit our children," says Chicago Public Schools' CEO, per CNN.

She and mayor Rahm Emanuel say the closures are needed because too many buildings sit half-empty, with 403,000 students in a system with seats for more than 511,000. CPS says it will save $560 million via the plan over a decade. But the Chicago Teachers Union is speaking out against it. "Today, a vacationing Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sending our school district into utter chaos," it said in a statement issued yesterday. (Rahm was on a family ski trip in Utah.) "These actions will not only put our students' safety and academic careers at risk but also further destabilize our neighborhoods," added its president.

A young boy waits to enter the Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago on Thursday, March 21, 2013.
A young boy waits to enter the Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago on Thursday, March 21, 2013.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks outside the Mahalia Jackson Elementary School in Chicago, Thursday, March 21, 2013, about the planned closing of public schools.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks outside the Mahalia Jackson Elementary School in Chicago, Thursday, March 21, 2013, about the planned closing of public schools.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
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