Update: May 22: 3:30 p.m CST:
The Chicago Public School board votes to close 50 schools, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In the nation’s largest round of closings in a single swoop, 50 of Chicago’s public elementary schools are going away for good.
Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.
CBS Chicago is reporting that hours before a final vote by the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools officials have agreed to back off plans to close four of the 54 elementary schools targeted for closing at the end of the school year, Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz confirmed Wednesday morning.
Another school closing will be delayed for a year, and a school not on the closing list will be spared from a major staff overhaul known as a “turnaround.”
Ruiz said CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett has decided to withdraw her recommendations to close Marcus Garvey Elementary School, Mahalia Jackson Elementary School, George Manierre Elementary School, and Leif Ericson Elementary Scholastic Academy.
“Barbara is going to recommend that these four not proceed, and will give us her final recommendation this morning,” Ruiz said. “I supported her decision, and she’s been very meticulous about every single school, and we’ve been working up until the last minute – until last evening, when I was having talks with different management at CPS – about what’s the right thing to do for our kids.”
Ruiz also confirmed the planned closing of Miriam Canter Middle School will be delayed at least a year.
Ruiz said there were “various reasons” behind the decisions to halt or delay the closings of those schools.
“Some of them, they have increasing enrollment trends, some have special programs for special needs children, and others are trending in the right direction in terms of their academics,” Ruiz said. “So there’s various reasons why she was consistently looking at each of the schools, each of the criterion, and making very difficult decisions for each of the communities impacted.”
Ruiz also confirmed Clara Barton Elementary School would not face a “turnaround” at the end of the school year.
A turnaround would have meant the entire staff at Barton would have been replaced, while students would have stayed at the school. Originally, Bennett had planned to have Barton turned over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, which has overseen the turnarounds of several other public schools.
Ruiz said, as of Wednesday morning, the four school closings that Bennett plans to rescind and the one she plans to delay are the only changes to the list of 53 elementary schools targeted for closing.
“Those are the ones that I’m aware of, as of last night. It’s constantly changing,” Ruiz said.
(Photo: Screen shot NBCChicago.)