CPS makes a final call: Despite weeks of protests and community opposition, CPS votes to close South Side schools


By Pascal SabinoReal Chi Youth Reporter & Arlana ShikongoNeighborhood and Politics Beat Editor


On Feb. 28, students, parents, teachers, organizers and concerned community members filled the Chicago Public School’s downtown office as the board was scheduled to take their final vote on the closure of four South Side high schools and an elementary school.

At the end of 2017, CPS held multiple public hearings to discuss their school closure proposal with the community, claiming that the proposal was borne out of community members themselves asking for a new school. However, the proposal was met with strong opposition by the affected communities in what seemed to be a facility-solution to a funding problem.

The Chicago Sun-Times published an article on Feb. 24 detailing that some of the key community support cited by CPS came from outside the Englewood neighborhood. The reporting shows that, according to public records and interviews, the “community support” that CPS repeatedly cited came from a CPS contractor and suburban residents.  

credit Sun-Times / Max Herman

credit Sun-Times / Max Herman

The crowd that collected at CPS on Wednesday morning called for the cancellation of the Board of Education vote that would close the Englewood high schools. They referenced the article to demonstrate that CPS’ alleged community engagement was a farce. Students also staged a sit-in after many of them weren’t allowed into the board’s chambers to voice their grievances.

This is not the first time students have resorted to staging a sit-in at a CPS board meeting on this particular issue. In December 2017, Harper and ACE Tech students also staged a sit in after being shut out by the CPS board.

Deciding that the fight for their education was too important to end after the CPS Board voted to close the schools, students and teachers marched to City Hall to air their grievances directly to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. According to organizers, it is the mayor and City Council that ultimately holds the power over the school closings, not CPS and the Board of Education.