Terry Mazany, the interim chief of Chicago Public Schools, says he doesn't know whether he'll seek to shut down several CPS district schools next year. It's a process that WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton has described as a "bitterly controversial annual ritual," one that's resulted in the closure of more than 60 institutions over the last 10 years. Traditionally, the list of schools to be closed is released in the first months of each year. The recommendations from central office can include outright closures, turnaround (where all of a school's staff are fired), a phase-out, or consolidation with another school.
While CPS says it targets low-performing or low-enrollment schools, many community members, parents, staff, and students often fight -- and fight hard -- to keep their schools in operation. Teachers say struggling institutions serving children coming from low-income backgrounds can't simply be remade by upending the staff. Parents are often opposed because they see schools on the close list as community anchors with deep neighborhood ties. Aldermen have criticized CPS for a lack of transparency about the process.
With this as the context, Mazany says he needs time before recommending a new round of school restructuring; no determination has been made, and Ron Huberman left no list of targeted schools. For now, Mazany tells the Sun-Times he's focusing on the district's budget gap, on teacher and principal quality, and finding CPS a new chief education officer, a position we touched on earlier this week.