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CPS To Announce Closing Of About 50 Schools

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CPS will announce the closing of around 50 schools between now and March 31.

CPS has told some alderman on the Education Committee about the school closings.

Alderman Howard Brookins Junior's 21st Ward is slated to lose two grade schools, the Mahalia Jackson and Garrett Morgan Schools. He says that he will fight to keep them open, particularly Jackson, which he says has developed a niche teaching deaf and hard of hearing students.

"It is a difficult decision and I don't envy Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the CPS Board when they go through in making this decision. It is particularly tough and some things have to be cut," said Brookins.

He says there are a handful of schools that are easy choices.

"After you get rid of the easy every other school gets hard and harder. I just want to make sure the case is made for each school that is closing," said Brookins.

CPS To Announce Closing Of About 50 Schools

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis responded angrily to the report, releasing a statement saying,""This city cannot destroy that many schools. It will send our district into chaos," Lewis said. "These actions will put our students safety and academics at risk and will further destabilize our neighborhoods."

According to the release, a mass rally is planned for 4 p.m. on March 27 at Daley Plaza.

CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett released a statement Wednesday saying,"By consolidating these schools we can focus on transitioning every child into a better performing school close to their home.

The district has said it's too costly to keep all of its school buildings open, when it has 330 schools it considers under-utilized. Of those, nearly 140 are more than half empty, and 129 have been placed on a preliminary list of school closings.

An independent commission has recommended the district close or consolidate no more than 80 schools.

Despite a projected $1 billion budget deficit for next school year, Byrd-Bennett said the district will make sure schools receiving students displaced by closings will have additional resources.

Any school receiving extra students will have a library; air conditioning; computer and science technology upgrades; and counseling and social work support.

In addition, any special education student displaced by a school closing will be reassigned to a school that can implement an Individualized Education Program – which describes what a special ed student needs.

"By consolidating schools, we're going to be able to really focus on resourcing those welcoming schools for our children," Byrd-Bennett said on the CBS 2 Morning News on Wednesday. "We're looking forward to this as an opportunity to really focus on providing our children what they deserve and need."

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