As many as 50 schools in Chicago could be closed this year, disproportionately affecting the city's African-American families.
After months of debates, the city of Chicago is preparing to announce the closure of 52 schools in the city in order to close a $1 billion deficit. The announcement, which broke late Wednesday, is expected Thursday evening.
Chicago Public School and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration looked at 129 schools in the district and chose about 50 to close, per the Chicago Tribune, citing under-enrollment as a major reason, and added that the cutbacks would not stop there:
In addition to closing about 50 schools, sources said the district will consolidate or overhaul staff at a number of other schools, bringing the total number of school actions to about 70. Urban districts around the country have been forced to close large numbers of schools, but if the number in Chicago holds it would likely be the largest number of schools shut down by a city in a single year in recent history.
The school closures will hit thousands of parents, children, and staff across Chicago, and disproportionately affect the district’s African-American community. Alderman Carrie Austin of the 34th ward told the Tribune she had not been informed of which schools in her Far South Side ward would be closed, but that many of the schools on the chopping block were located in predominantly black neighborhoods on the south and west sides.
Chicago Public Schools has until March 31 to announce its final list of closures, according to the Associated Press—but the list will not be final until late May after a vote from the Chicago Board of Education.