Chicago to Close 54 Schools to Address $1B Deficit

The mayor and the school district CEO say its necessary because so many schools are half-empty.

Posted: 03/21/2013 06:07 PM EDT
Chicago to Close 54 Schools to Address $1B Deficit

Parents protest outside the home of Chicago's Board of Education President David Vitale’s house. (Photo: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools officials say they will close 54 schools as part of a plan to address the district's $1 billion deficit.

District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Thursday announced which schools would be targeted for closure.

Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel say the closures are necessary because too many school buildings are half-empty. The district says it has seats for more than 500,000 students but has only about 403,000.

District officials say money spent on underutilized schools could be better used elsewhere.

The proposed closures have drawn sharp criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union, parents and lawmakers.

They say the district is disproportionately targeting schools in minority neighborhoods. They also say the closures will endanger students who may have to cross gang boundaries to attend school.

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