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Schools chief: CPS should put one-year freeze on new charter schools

The city’s public schools have such a backlog of charter schools in need of buildings that the system should declare a one-year moratorium on new charter operators, Interim Schools CEO Terry Mazany says.

Ten to 12 charter schools need additional space, while 10 to 30 traditional public schools suffer from serious under-enrollment, Mazany said.

Though the system has room for 480,000 students, it only serves only 415,000, leaving 65,000 empty seats, he said.

Mazany said he favors a one-year moratorium on new charter operators while the system sorts out this imbalance. After Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel takes office May 16, Emanuel’s new Schools CEO should take time deciding which traditional school buildings to close or consolidate and which proven charter operators to put in them, Mazany said.

The moratorium is just one recommendation Mazany hopes to include in an education plan he is developing for his successor. But the idea drew heat Tuesday from Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Broy questioned why a moratorium was necessary if CPS has 65,000 unclaimed seats.

“You either have space or you don’t,” Broy said. “Why are we making a one-year moratorium... when [Mazany] will be gone in a couple months and the new CEO will be make the decision?’’

Mazany insisted he is not setting up a “dueling plans’’ scenario by developing one set of education goals at the same time as Emanuel’s Education Transition Committee is crafting long and short-term education goals. He said he needed to set priorities before cutting $700 million from a budget due June 30.

Coincidentally, Mazany said, several members of the more than 50 people serving on up to three Mazany advisory groups also sit on Emanuel’s 14-member transition committee. That overlap, he said, should help the transition.

Mazany cautioned that his plan is still being drafted and will be “only a starting point for the next administration.”

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