Chicago School Closings Ignite Furor and Fears

Monday, April 1, 2013

Curtis Johnson cried when he heard that the public school where he works as a security guard and where two of his children are students will close at the end of this school year.

Johnson, 42, worries his children, ages 11 and 13, will have to "walk across gang-infested neighborhoods" to get to their new school. "I don't understand that," he says.

The announcement last week that Chicago Public Schools will close 54 schools before classes begin next fall is creating a furor.

Jesse Ruiz, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, says the number of schools must be pared because many are underutilized because of a shrinking student population — the number of Chicago residents fell by 200,418 from 2000 to 2010 — and because the district faces a $1 billion budget shortfall.

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