Chicago Public Schools: Closures, Turnarounds and Budget

By Chinyere Farr Douglas and Maeve O’Donovan

Since 2002, the City of Chicago has either closed or “turned around” a whopping 200 public schools.

City leaders insist the reasons for the closures are due to chronic low-performance and under-enrollment. Most of the affected schools are located in the South and West Sides of Chicago where predominantly blacks and Latinos reside. The idea was to replace the closed schools with new ‘renaissance” schools to provide a better outcome for students and staff.

Chicago has opened nearly as many new “renaissance” schools and it’s closed. Although some of the new schools have become some of the city’s most successful schools, many of them are no longer open.

We got the opportunity to interview two Chicago public school teachers and one current Chicago public school student who are affected by the city’s efforts to improve schools.

Carla Salvato, a UIC Education major and a teacher at O.A. Thorp in Portage Park, said budgeting has always been an issue amongst many of the CPS schools. She said some neighborhood schools are fortunate enough to have iPads, computers, smartboards and Chromebooks for lecture. Others do not. Her current school O.A. Thorp does.

Carla speaking about how the budget affects the different schools mentions,“There have iPads, Chromebooks, Smartboards per one classroom and some schools don’t even have any of those for the whole entire school.”

“Students learning is affected because they don’t have all the resources they need, which isn’t fair” Salvato said. “The technology is the greatest need for funding within the school.”

Students qualifying for Free Lunch

Macy Geyer, a UIC education major and current teacher at Oscar DePriest Elementary School in the South Austin neighborhood, has been teacher for almost a year in CPS.

Geyer mentioned technology being different throughout all schools. Where some schools have bigger budgets, meaning they contain better technology and other schools with little to no budget don’t have anything.

Oscar DePriest Elementary is among one of the newer schools to open on the West Side of Chicago. Budgeting is still an issue for this school which in return impacts the teacher and the students.

“There are some days where a student will ask the teacher for a pencil and she will say no, I don’t have any left,” she said.


That becomes and issue when the teacher will have to go and spend their own money on classroom supplies such as pencils and notebooks. Supplies that should be readily available for students.

Through all the classrooms, the Illinois State Standards for Curriculum for DePriest has been met. Although Geyer has not experienced a school closing herself, her mentor teacher has. She reports the closings happen abruptly and relocation can be inconsiderate. If teacher get the opportunity to move to another school, it’s likely for them to be place in schools far from their homes on very short notice.

Located on the South Side of Chicago in the Englewood neighborhood, John Hope College Preparatory High School is set to close its doors within the next two years because of under-enrollment.

As former student of John Hope High School, Adrienne Bradford was fortunate enough to attend all four years at Hope before it closed in 2018. Although fortunate to graduate, Bradford is still highly disturbed by the rapid school closings that have affected her community.

When she first heard the news that the school would be closing before graduation, Bradford was in disbelief. She defended Hope in saying it was a safe place for her and her peers. She witnessed some of the best teachers laid off because of the lack of funding and student attendance.

Bradford went on the mention that the she enjoyed the smaller class sizes because is enabled teachers and students to build trusting relationships. Her teachers were more than teachers, they were mentors who truly cared about the student’s academic success even though they were aware of the struggles they faced outside school walls.

Michael Passman the Chief of Communication and Emily Bolton the Press Secretary for Chicago Public Schools were contacted by us several times. They were asked if they could answer questions about the Chicago Public Schools closings for the UIC Data Journalism course. We had no response each effort.


Free Flu Shot Clinic Guide

Flu Shot Map

This map shows the locations for free flu shot clinics throughout Chicago in both the 2012 season in blue and then the 2013 season in red.

The year prior was the swine flu breakout, which left everyone very nervous for flu season the next year.  It seems like in the 2012 season clinics were ready to go full force in making sure that everyone was protected and able to access the flu shot.  There were 1060 clinics located for the 2012 season as opposed to 65 for the 2013 season. In the heart of the city only 3 locations were there in 2013.

Although there are many factors that could go into having less or more clinics, to me this raises a question. The 2013 season could have not been predicted to hit hard, or even have a bad strain out so precautions were not as necessary.  The season before could have been way over prepared due to the swine season and they realized that all the precautions were not as necessary. I found it the results of this very interesting.


Chicago’s Changing Skyline

Click here for a Juxtapose before and after

The Chicago skyline has changed a lot throughout the years. It is about to start looking different and more modern in the near future. In this Juxtapose you can see the biggest or I could say tallest project happening in Chicago right now. The Vista Tower is being built right in the Lakeshore East neighborhood. Lakeshore East has been built up within the past 20 years.

The Vista will be the newest edition set to be ready in 2020. it will be the third tallest building in Chicago being 1,919 feet tall. It will have 196 hotel rooms and 396 residential condos. The skyline will look a whole lot different coming late 2020, bringing in many visitors and new resident to Chicago from various states and countries. I would like to think there is more like this to come for Chicago.

Craft Beer

Craft brewers work like a smaller businesses. Around 6 million barrels of craft beer are produced in the United States each year. Craft beer sales only make up about 3 percent of beer production sales.

Craft brewers are able to do more with their products than big brewers. In Illinois, there are about 230 Craft Breweries. Illinois produces 385,874 barrels of Craft Beer per year, which puts them at 1.3 gallons per each 21+ adult. Because they produce small batches they are able to play around with more types of beer they create. If they create a new type of beer and consumers are not a big fan of the flavor, it’s not too big of an issue, they didn’t make so much that they can’t sell.

Craft brewers can get more creative and tend to be local. Most Americans live about 10 miles from a craft brewer. They are able to cater to their audience more, they can easily take feedback and suggestions from their customers. They are able to build closer relationships with their consumers which builds a good business and keeps them up and running.


Chicago Blackhawks 2018-2019 Salaries

This Flourish pie chart shows Chicago Blackhawks players salaries from the 2018-2019 year. The Blackhawks salary cap for the past year was $79.5 million. About half of that number is taking from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, each making $12 million. After that there are a handful of payers making a few million as well. The salary cap for the 2019-2020 season should rise about $3.5 million bringing the cap to $83 million. Decisions are to be made this upcoming summer.

Bowman already said that re-signing the team’s three young restricted free agents — Vinnie Hinostroza, Anthony Duclair and John Hayden — would be a top priority.” It’s important for the Blackhawks to hold on to their young stars, as they have a whole career ahead of them.  The Blackhawks got off to a rough start this season. Many changes took place, including a new head coach Jeremy Colliton. Starting June 2019, decisions for the next season will start to be implemented.