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Dec 6 / Neal

Neighborhood Schools Both Over and Under Utilized

Class RoomThe Chicago Public School’s plan to close a number of elementary schools took a step closer with the release of a student enrollment report according to the Chicago Tribune.  The city’s population decline over the past 10 years has resulted in 145,000 fewer school age children in Chicago with most of the population decrease occurring in the south and west side. With the decrease in student population the district is looking to close an undetermined number of facilities.

As many as 50% of elementary schools are underutilized while just 15% are overcrowded according to CPS. The number of students per classroom used to determine these numbers are between 25 and 36 with 30 being ideal.   Public education advocacy group Raise Your Hand disputes the formula used to establish utilization rates and sets the underutilized figure at 38% and the overcrowded schools at 31%.  Raise Your Hand uses a maximum of 30 students in a classroom with 25 being ideal.

The report, raw data can be found here,  indicates Locke Elementary, 2828 N Oak Park Ave, is significantly overcrowded while Lovett Elementary, 6333 West Bloomingdale Avenue, is significantly underutilized. Locke  had a whopping 393 more  students than its ideal capacity and Lovett had 232 students under ideal capacity. Sayre,1850 North Newland Avenue, and Burbank Elementary,2035 N Mobile Ave, are being is being used within capacity.  UNO Galewood data was not in the report because it was not open during the 2011-2012 school year.

A nine-member board appointed by CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is assisting the district in determining which  schools to close with utilization being just one factor being considered. The commission is hold a public hearing December 7 at Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave from 7-9 p.m. and December 10 at St. Sabine Elders Village, 1222 W. 79th Street from 7-9 p.m.  Additional public hearings are expected.


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