CPS to close schools, fire staffs

  • By Paul D. Bowker
  • Education reporter
  • January 24, 2008 @ 8:01 PM

Chicago Public Schools rolled out a sweeping consolidation and school "turnaround" plan today that will affect more than 7,500 students, and potentially hundreds of teachers and other staffers next fall.

Decreasing enrollments at elementary schools were cited for a consolidation plan that will close eight schools, phase out two others and move the Edison Regional Gifted Center to Albany Park Multicultural Academy.

News of the school closings drew nearly 100 parents to Wednesday's monthly board of education meeting to plead  with President Rufus Williams and other board members. Edison parents grilled the board about the CPS proposals, during an emotional 2  1/2 hour meeting.

Bigger news arrived today in the form of pink slips: eight schools, all identified as low performing, will be changed to six "turnaround" schools next fall as a part of Mayor Richard M. Daley's "Ren 10 Plan" announced four years ago. New staffs, including teachers and principals, will be hired at Harper High School and its feeder schools, Fulton Elementary and Copernicus Elementary, and the Orr High School Campus and its feeder schools, Morton Career Academy and Howe Elementary.

"We have to challenge the status quo, to do something substantially better," schools CEO Arne Duncan said at a news conference today. "We can't wait five years, we can't wait 10 years. We need to do it now."

All of the proposals, which still have to be voted on, were presented to the board today. The board's next meeting is at 10:30 a.m., Feb. 27 at the CPS headquarters in downtown Chicago, beginning with public comment.

A series of public hearings has been scheduled on the proposal, beginning with a hearing on the consolidation of the Miles Davis and Johns Middle Academy scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 4.

Teachers and staff at the eight under-performing schools are to lose their jobs at the end of the school year, but will be allowed to reapply.

"As a 30-year teaching veteran, I'm concerned about the students, teachers and communities who will be adversely affected by these changes," said Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. "CPS must consult with the educators and other stakeholders affected in order to minimize or eliminate the adverse affects of these proposed changes."

Including the school closings, the CPS said fewer than 1,500 children will change schools in the fall. Overall, 2,873 children attend classes at the affected schools this year. Eight of the 11 schools identified for had declining enrollment this year.

Most children will be reassigned to schools less than two miles away, school officials say.

Proposed "turnaround" schools:

  • Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood, 1,261 students.
  • Fulton Elementary, 5300 S. Hermitage, 672 students.
  • Copernicus Elementary, 6010 S. Throop, 496 students.
  • Orr High School, 730 N. Pulaski Road, will be combined from Mose Vines High School, EXCEL-Orr Academy and Applied Arts Science and Technology Academy, total of 1,411 students.
  • Howe Elementary, 720 N. Lorel, 696 students.
  • Morton Career Academy, 431 N. Troy, 262 students.

Proposed consolidations:

  • Gladstone Elementary, 1231 S. Damen, 287 students, pre-k through grade 8. School would close, attendance boundary would be reassigned to Smyth Magnet School, 1059 W. 13th and Plamondon, 2642 W. 15th Place.
  • Johns Middle Academy, 6936 S. Hermitage Ave., 308 students, grades 4-8. One of two schools to be consolidated into new Miles Davis, 6740 S. Paulina.
  • Miles Davis Academy, 6723 S. Wood, 306 students, pre-k through grade 3. Would be consolidated into new Miles Davis magnet school, along with Johns Middle Academy students.
  • Anderson Elementary, 1148 N. Honore St., 580 students, pre-k through grade 8. School would eventually be phased out; new students would attend Pritzker Elementary, 2009 W. Schiller St.
  • Midway Academy, 5434 S. Lockwood Ave., 90 students, grades 2-8. School would close, children would attend neighborhood schools.
  • Carver Middle School, 801 E. 133rd Pl., 244 students, grades 5-8. Would consolidate with Carver Primary, 901 E. 133rd Place, which is located next door.
  • De La Cruz, 2317 W. 23rd Pl., 102 students, grades 7-8. Would be consolidated with Finkl Elementary, 2332 Western Ave.
  • Abbott Elementary, 3630 S. Wells St., 99 students, pre-k through grade 8. Would be consolidated with Graham Elementary, 4436 S. Union Ave.
  • Irving Park Middle School, 3815 N. Kedvale Ave., 348 students, grades 7-8. Would be phased out; new students in the fall would attend Marshall Middle School, 3900 N. Lawndale Ave.
  • Edison Regional Gifted Center, 6220 N. Olcott Ave., 274 students, pre-k through grade 8. Would be relocated to Albany Park Multicultural Academy, 4929 N. Sawyer Ave., but would remain a "regional gifted center."
  • Roque De Duprey Elementary, 1405 N. Washtenaw Ave., 235 students, grades 1-8. Would be relocated to Von Humboldt Elementary, 2620 W. Hirsch, one block away.

Public hearing schedule:

(All hearings at CPS Central Office, 125 S. Clark St., Board Chambers 5th floor unless otherwise noted.)

  • Feb. 4: Miles Davis and Johns Academy, 3-6 p.m.
  • Feb. 6: Midway Academy, 3-6 p.m.; Abbott Elementary, 7-10 p.m.
  • Feb. 7: Orr Campus, 3-6 p.m.; Howe Elementary, 7-10 p.m.; Midway Academy, 5-8 p.m., Hancock High School, 4034 W. 56th St.
  • Feb. 8: Morton Career Academy, 3-6 p.m.; Edison Regional Gifted Center, 5-8 p.m., Edison Center, 6220 N. Olcott Ave.
  • Feb. 9: Duprey Elementary, noon-3 p.m., 1405 N. Washtenaw Ave.
  • Feb. 11: Fulton Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; Harper High School, 7-10 p.m.; Miles Davis and Johns Academy, 5-8 p.m., St. Andrews Temple, 1743 W. Marquette Rd.
  • Feb. 13: Copernicus Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; Carver Middle School, 7-10 p.m.
  • Feb. 14: Gladstone Elementary, 3-6 p.m.; De La Cruz Elementary, 7-10 p.m.
  • Feb. 15: Irving Park Middle School, 3-6 p.m.; Anderson Elementary, 7-10 p.m.
  • Feb. 16: Gladstone Elementary, noon-3 p.m., 1231 S. Damen Ave.

Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.