Among the critics is Eular Hatchett, who lives in the violence-plagued neighborhood of North Lawndale and walks her 13-year-old nephew DaVontay Horace to school.
“Our parents know about this area,” she said. “They don’t know about those other areas. If they send him way north or way south, I’m not going to do that. It’s too dangerous.”
Because some schools have more than one building, a total of 61 structures will be closed. In addition to the closures, students at 11 other schools will be “co-located” with existing schools. Six schools have been targeted for academic interventions known as “turnaround.”
The vast majority of the 54 schools are in overwhelmingly black neighborhoods that have lost residents in recent years. The city’s black population dropped 17 percent in the last census as African-Americans moved out to the suburbs and elsewhere. The other few schools are majority Hispanic or mixed black and Hispanic. Overall, 91 percent of Chicago public school students are minorities.
CPS says the plan will save the district $560 million over 10 years in capital costs and an additional $43 million per year in operating costs.
District officials said they couldn’t calculate how many teachers will be laid off as a result of the cuts because school leaders will make decisions about their own budgets.
Rosemary Maurello, a teacher at Lafayette Elementary, said she’s worried about where her students will end up after that school closes. As a tenured teacher, the contract allows her to follow her students to their new school, but she wonders whether some of them will opt to go to other schools instead.
The district has plans for community organizations to help students get to their new locations safely, but Maurello wonders how long that will last.
“I truly believe that it’s going to be chaos,” she said.