Chicago school officials said on March 21 that they plan to close dozens of schools in a bid to improve education and tackle a $1 billion deficit.
The move would shutter 61 school buildings, including 53 underused schools and one program. The cut represents roughly 10% of all elementary school facilities in Chicago Public Schools, the country's third-largest school district.
The Chicago Teachers Union, whose 30,000 members went on strike for seven days in Sept. 2012, opposes the closures. The union says the move would disproportionately affect African-American students.
School districts across the country are dealing with financial shortfalls and pressures to make cuts. Take a look at other U.S. public schools facing financial troubles.
Detroit. The city itself is in a state of financial emergency, and public education is not exempt from the troubles. The financial downfall in the state's largest school district will continue through 2016, leaving Detroit Public Schools with 28 fewer schools, 1,688 lost positions and 13,000 fewer students, according to their latest deficit elimination plan.
To reach its goals, DPS is slashing expenses by $120 million in 2013-14, by $42 million in 2014-15 and by $33 million in 2015-16, according to The Detroit News.
Washington, D.C. In January of this year, D.C. education chancellor Kaya Henderson released a finalized list of 15 public school closures slated for this year and next. In all, the plan will eliminate nearly 10 percent of all public schools in the District of Columbia and an estimated 140 teaching positions.
This is the second wave of closures that the city has seen since 23 public schools were closed in 2008. The majority of closures occurred within the impoverished southeast part of the city.
Tucson. The school district has been formally ordered to close 11 schools in 2013-14 due to declining enrollment and a $17 million budget shortfall.
The district still has a long way to go to close the budget shortfall. It's also considering several other options, including cuts in central administration, salaries, furlough days, and medical insurance contribution levels.
Philadelphia. In March, officials approved closing 23 public schools, about 10 percent of the city’s total.
The closures are part of a plan by the school district to erase a huge budget deficit of $1.35 billion over five years and reduce the number of underused schools.
The district cannot afford to keep open buildings that are significantly underused and in some cases require repairs that would cost millions of dollars, the district’s superintendent, William R. Hite, has argued. More than a quarter of the district’s 195,000 seats are empty.
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