Schools win closings reprieve; another ‘franchise’ in the works

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Six schools have been taken off the district’s list of 22 schools slated for closure or turnaround: Peabody, Yale, Las Casas, Holmes, Global Visions and Hamilton. Peabody was slated to close for under-enrollment, but parents and activists rallied on the school’s behalf and argued that the district’s calculation of the school’s space utilization did not take into account the space used for special programs. Peabody is located in state Rep. Cynthia Soto’s district in West Town; Soto is chief sponsor of proposed legislation that would place a one-year moratorium on school closings. Hamilton was also slated to close for under-enrollment, but the school’s high test scores helped it to win a reprieve. Yale and Holmes were slated for turnarounds, but supporters argued that test scores are on the rise and the schools deserved more time to improve. Las Casas, a vocational school for special needs students, was taken off the list to give parents more time to find alternatives for their children. Global Visions was removed from the list because it posted the highest test scores among the four small schools on the Bowen campus. In January, activists scored an earlier victory on closings when four schools that had been on an unofficial closings list given to community groups were spared. The School Board will vote on the remaining 16 closings and turnarounds at its regular public meeting on Wednesday, with reinstated Board President Michael Scott presiding. In all, 40 schools have closed or undergone turnarounds since Mayor Daley launched Renaissance 2010 in 2004.

ANOTHER FRANCHISE  CPS is moving ahead with its school franchise strategy and is planning to open a second branch of Hyde Park’s Murray Language Academy. Officials have not confirmed where the new Murray would open, although a meeting on the proposal was held last week at Price Elementary in Kenwood. This year, CPS opened branches of two other popular magnet schools, Disney Magnet II in Irving Park and LaSalle Language Academy II in West Town. The district hatched the franchise strategy last year as a way to use the branding power of sought-after magnets to draw families to new schools created under Renaissance 2010.