The Norman Transcript

Headlines

March 22, 2013

Chicago to close 54 schools due to deficit

CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools officials said Thursday they plan to close 54 schools in an effort to address a $1 billion budget shortfall and improve a struggling educational system.

District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel say the closures are necessary because too many CPS buildings are half-empty. The nation’s third-largest district, CPS has about 403,000 students but has seats for more than 500,000, officials say. But opponents say the closures will disproportionately affect minority children and endanger students who may have to cross gang boundaries to attend school.

The plan will affect about 30,000 students, CPS officials said. They say money being spent to keep underutilized schools open could be better used to educate students elsewhere.

“Every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves access to a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed in life, but for too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in underutilized, under-resourced schools,” Byrd-Bennett said. “As a former teacher and a principal, I’ve lived through school closings and I know that this will not be easy, but I also know that in the end this will benefit our children.”

Critics say the closings are unnecessary and will devastate communities.

Sandra Leon said she got a tearful call from her grandchildren’s kindergarten teacher saying their school was on the list to be closed. Her two grown children also attended the school, and Leon couldn’t suppress tears as she waited outside the building for her grandchildren.

Chicago is among several major U.S. cities — including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit — to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005.

The issue has again pitted Emanuel against the Chicago Teachers Union, whose 26,000 members went on strike early in the school year, idling students for seven days. It has also put Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett at odds with parents, civic leaders and lawmakers, who have blasted the pair during highly charged community meetings throughout the city and at a legislative hearing earlier this week.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Body 1 Police identify woman found dead Monday

    Norman police have identified a woman found dead in her home at 2202 Donna Drive Monday afternoon. Police responded at 1:25 p.m. to the residence of Cassandra Thompson, 30, after receiving a report that she had not shown up for work ...

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Residents speak out about document regarding shelter photos

    Norman and metro-area residents showed up in overwhelming numbers, many in red shirts, for an Animal Shelter Oversight Board meeting Monday night demanding for their opinions to be heard....

    July 29, 2014

  • Mixon’s attorney says athlete acted in self-defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon says the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense. “This past Friday morning, Joe Mixon found himself in a situation ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    Moore — She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate approves new VA secretary

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Shelter construction ongoing; residents voice concerns

    A regular quarterly meeting of the Animal Shelter Oversight Board prompted Norman residents to speak up about more than just a photo release issue Monday night involving Friends of the Animals of Norman volunteers and the city of Norman. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Senate passes highway bill, sends it to House

    WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued ...

    July 30, 2014