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CPS plans to relocate two schools but no closures planned

Chicago Public Schools CEO BarbarByrd-Bennett  |  Sun-Times files

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett | Sun-Times files

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Updated: December 28, 2013 6:29AM

Chicago Public Schools is going easy on the school overhauls it’s proposing.

Last time CPS announced its proposals, dozens of schools were on the chopping block.

This year, CPS is suggesting relocating two schools that currently share buildings to other campuses. That would give the two schools that had previously shared their buildings room to expand, CPS said.

The announcement was released Wednesday as CPS faced a Dec. 1 deadline to announce school “actions.”

“This is reflective of the [schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s] commitment to bring stability to our communities after consolidating underutilized schools,” CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said.

CPS officials also have pledged not to close any more schools because of academic or enrollment problems for at least five years.

And though Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she’s not surprised that no school closings are on the table, she said: “I would prefer there be no school actions. It seems like to me that schools get bounced around a lot.”

In North Lawndale, CPS is proposing that Frazier Preparatory Academy Elementary School move to Herzl Elementary School.

Frazier Prep now shares a building with Frazier International Magnet School, also known as Frazier IB, a Level 1 school that was recently honored by the a U.S. Department of Education for its performance.

“These proposals will allow CPS over time to double the size of Frazier IB, one of the city’s top elementary schools, while providing a more equitable distribution of space for other schools that will better support student learning,” Byrd-Bennett said in a statement.

Frazier International Principal Faren D’Abell said his school has 265 students — most of whom are black, low-income and come from Austin and North Lawndale. He said the school needs room to grow so more kids from the West Side can attend.

But Natasha Edmondson, whose 8-year-old daughter attends Herzl, is concerned about the plan to move a new school in. She said she hadn’t heard about the proposal until a reporter called.

Herzl, she said, is a “turnaround” school — a low-performing school that was academically overhauled — and the kids are just now getting used to the new teachers and principal, among other changes.

“I really don’t think the kids need another change,” she said. “They’re finally starting to adjust to the changes that have been made.”

In Bronzeville, CPS is proposing that Urban Prep Academy for Young Men-Bronzeville will move to Doolittle West. Urban Prep in Bronzeville, an all-boys charter school, currently shares a building with Drake Elementary School. Doolittle West is now occupied by the Chicago High School for the Arts — known as ChiArts — which sources have said will move into the building that once housed Lafayette Elementary School, one of the schools that was closed.

Drake, which is a welcoming school for a closed school, will now have room to grow, Carroll said.

Several community meetings and hearings are scheduled for January.

In the coming weeks, CPS will likely announce schools that will be “turned around.” It is expected to also announce any new charter schools.


Twitter: @schlikerman

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