By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released a list of 129 schools last week that are being considered for closure. Ray Elementary School was removed after showing up on an initial list, but the fate of three other Hyde Park schools is still hanging in the balance.
Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., has been removed from the pared-down list of schools that might be closed, but Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St.; Kozminski, 936 E. 54th St. and Canter Middle School, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., remain on the list for the time being. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has until March 31 to announce a final list of school closings.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that the school system could balance its budget if it were to “right size” the school district by closing underutilized schools. School utilization will be the main part of school closing considerations this school year. Before last week’s list was released, CPS initially identified about 330 schools that were under-enrolled.
Byrd-Bennett appointed the Chicago Public School’s Commission on School Utilization to preside over hearings across the city, and representatives from each region were given time to speak on behalf of their schools.
After the first round of hearings the commission recommended that high schools and high-performing schools be removed from the list. Schools with more than 600 students or utilization rates of at least 70 percent have also been taken off the list.
Although it dropped in ranking, Ray — a pre-k to 6th grade, Level 2, mid-ranking school — is not on probation. It is often touted by CPS as a model school. Kozminski — a pre-k to 8th grade, Level 3, low-ranking school that is on probation — has a 47 percent utilization rate and current enrollment is 370 students. The ideal capacity according to CPS is 780. Canter is a Level 3, low-performing middle school on probation and is at 58 percent capacity. The current enrollment at Canter is 228. The ideal enrollment according to CPS is 390.