Aaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:
While Chicago’s Mayor and other administration officials seem to believe the closing of more than 54 public schools in Chicago is a done deal, resistance to the closures is about to peak just before the school board votes on the closures. This weekend, thousands plan to march to say no to the closures for three days beginning Saturday.
Resistance to the closures however, began months ago, with several protests and hundreds of hearings where parents, students, teachers and their supporters aired their grievances and demanded their schools stay open. Mayor Rahm Emanuel touts the closures will help close the $1 billion deficit. Officials within CPS said they could save as much as $560 million by shutting the doors to neighborhood schools, shuffling students to other supposedly better performing locations. However, WBEZ reported the calculation was off by $122 million. CPS admitted its mistake in arithmetic, calling it an “honest mistake.”
Mistakes in math however, are only the tip of the iceberg. The savings estimates in some cases came from estimating costs to repair and upgrade buildings slated for closure. Alderman Patrick O’Connor said in a meeting on the proposed closure of Trumbull Elementary
“The amount that is indicated is significantly higher than we would actually spend if in fact you were going to keep that school open and invest. Clearly, if you wanted to make it top of the line, $16 million would be a nice investment. But if you just wish to maintain the school and keep it open, you’re more in the area of $4 or $5 (million).”
In addition, the Chicago Tribune reports renovations to “welcoming schools,” which students from shuttered locations would be sent to, could cost millions. Records obtained by the Trib show CPS plans to spend tens of millions of dollars this summer to upgrade those schools. In one case, CPS decided to merge Lawrence and Burnham schools on Chicago’s south side. To fully modernize and take on the new students, Lawrence will need $14 million, $6 million more than it would take Burnham to upgrade. Peabody Elementary in Wicker Park, also on the chopping block, would cost $10.9 million to keep open. Instead, CPS will spend $12.2 million to overhaul nearby Otis Elementary to take on Peabody students. Even more outrageous – Peabody just spent nearly $40,000 installing new motion detector lights in March, even though it’s been slated for closure.
Read the full post at Diatribe Media.