A public meeting on school closures got so heated that a principal and dozens of students decided to leave Truman College on Monday night.
The meeting was the first of two rounds held by the Commission on School Utilization, organized by CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to research school closings.
CPS officials were supposed to present metrics on schools in the Ravenswood-Ridge network which includes Bell, Chappell, Coonley, McPherson, Ravenswood, Waters, Budlong, Audubon and Blaine, among others.
The angry parents and teachers wouldn’t let officials speak, and some teachers refused to participate in the breakout sessions, DNAinfo reports.
Independent facilitators ran the meeting, which ‘set parameters’ for the press at certain points. Opening presentations were open to the media, but the breakout sessions run by the facilitators were closed. Reporters were allowed a one-minute walk-through for observation.
Updated: CPS officials released a statement Wednesday night that showed appreciation to participants:
"We thank the hundreds of community members that came out tonight to engage CPS around our District's utilization crisis, which is stretching our limited resources much too thin and depriving schools of the supports they need to provide all children with the well-rounded education they deserve."
The next meeting for the Ravenswood-Ridge network is Feb. 16, where officials said they’d name specific schools considered for closure. CPS has a March 31 deadline to list all schools on the chopping block.
Byrd-Bennett said high schools and high-performing schools are off-limits for closure discussions.
Early estimates showed more than 100 schools on the chopping block. The committee has now said fewer than 50 schools could be closed. That number could also shrink to 15 because of logistical problems with shifting teachers and students.
However, CPS officials said at Wednesday’s board meeting they did have the resources necessary to close a large amount of schools.
The proposal for school closings stems from a $1 billion budget deficit and a drop in the CPS student population over the past decade. The schools are serving 403,000 students with the capacity for 511,000, according to a CPS release.
Want more local news? Get Patched in on the North Side!
- CPS to Answer School Closure Questions in February
- Fewer Schools Headed For Closure, Source Says
- Local School Closing Plans Detailed in CPS Document
This story has been updated with more information and video.