Credit: photo by Grace Donnelly

Then – 2013:

Two years ago this month, despite massive protests by parents, teachers and community members, the CPS board voted to close 50 schools at the end of the school year. It was the largest number of schools ever closed at one time in the nation, and impacted some 30,000 students, who either had to move schools or whose schools received displaced students. The rationale? There were several. Mayor Rahm Emanuel initially touted savings but then, when the numbers didn’t pan out as anticipated, he switched his focus to moving kids into better schools. Meanwhile, CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett said that the closing of under-used buildings would allow CPS to focus limited resources on a smaller number of schools.

See: 50 school closings approved at raucous board meeting, Catalyst May 22, 2013.


Students who made the transition from closed schools to different CPS schools have shown only modest improvement in attendance and performance, and only 20 percent transferred to significantly better schools. Most worrying, CPS lost track of over 400 students and does not know where or whether they enrolled in other schools.

See CPS touts minute improvements for students from closed schools, Catalyst March 26, 2014; Tracking 434 missing students after closings, Catalyst February 4, 2015.


Thirty-three of the closed schools remain boarded up and unsold. It is costly to maintain and secure the buildings. What will CPS do with these buildings that used to be centers of their communities?

See: Vacant schools still waiting for a second life, Catalyst March 30, 2015.

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