It’s official: Eight schools will be closed or turned around

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The Chicago Board of Education unanimously gave the go-ahead to CEO Ron
Huberman’s scaled back plan to close or turnaround eight schools,
including two venerable neighborhood high schools.


The Chicago Board of Education unanimously gave the go-ahead to CEO Ron Huberman’s scaled back plan to close or turnaround eight schools, including two venerable neighborhood high schools.

After a month of packed community hearings and protests, today’s meeting was pretty low-key with a few speeches calling for a moratorium on school actions and some teachers pleading for more time.

Three aldermen, Sandi Jackson, Pat Dowell and Ed Smith, told the board that they wanted them to stop the school closing and turnarounds for at least a year and to do a better job of reaching out to the public.

CTU President Marilyn Stewart reiterated her opposition, as did several members of the progressive Caucus of Rank and File Educators. “These nuclear options do not work,” said CORE member Liz Brown. 

The response was at least partly tempered by the fact that over the last week Huberman pulled seven schools off the list of those being targeted with actions. Some of those schools, including Lincoln Park’s Prescott Elementary, might have drawn a crowd.

After Huberman ran through his modified PowerPoint presentation, board members asked him about four soft questions, mostly about the way school closings and turnarounds were communicated to the public.

Member Norman Bobins asked Huberman if the schools that meet the closing or turnaround criteria — but were spared this year — know that they face actions in the future. “I can’t take this every year,” he said.

Huberman responded by telling Bobins that he planned to hold meetings at schools before next year’s decisions are announced to inform parents about the state of their school and to see if they can come up with internal plans for improvement.

The action by the board clears the way for about 269 teachers to be laid off. Those whose schools are being turned around can reapply for their jobs.

Those schools that will be turned around are Bradwell, Curtis, Phillips, Marshall and Deneen. McCorkle will be consolidated with Beethoven and Schneider will be phased out, losing a grade a year.
Las Casas will be closed.

The board withdrew motions that would have awarded contracts for the Academy of Urban School Leadership to turnaround  Bradwell, Deneen, Curtis and Phillips. Chief Administrative Officer Robert Runcie says district officials still plan to have AUSL, which provides a yearlong teacher training program to turnaround teachers, work with these schools.

However, the district needs to have a public hearing before awarding such contracts and then will present these motions at the March board meeting, he says.