Frequently Asked Questions
How many meetings has the Commission held?
The Commission has held 10 meetings: Four data-gathering sessions, where it received information from academics, researchers, CPS experts and the Chicago Teachers Union; and six community meetings, where the public had an opportunity to address its questions, concerns and ideas to the Commission.
What happened at those meetings?
You can find video recordings of all 10 meetings on the Commission’s website, www.schoolutilization.com, under the tab titled “Commission Materials.”
I wasn’t able to make it to the meetings. How can I get my thoughts to the Commission?
You can leave comments through the feedback form at www.schoolutilization.com. You can also leave comments at email@example.com. We’re not able to respond to each comment individually, but we do read all of them.
When will you issue the list of schools that you’re going to close?
The Commission will issue its recommendations to Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in early March. From this process, a list of potential school closings will be developed and made public no later than March 31, as mandated by Illinois Senate Bill 547.
What kind of information are you using to do your work?
We’ve gathered data from a variety of sources, including academics, researchers, individuals who have presented reports at our community meetings and CPS. All of the data we are using to do our work is on our website, under the tabs “Commission Materials” and “Other Reports and Data.”
My school has an annex. Are you considering the annex space in calculating utilization?
In most instances, CPS considers annexes permanent buildings, and it does include annex space in calculating utilization. It does not, however, include mobile classrooms, basement classrooms and leased facilities in calculating utilization. Part of our work in January and February will involve testing the assumptions and data CPS is using.
I keep hearing that CPS lost 145,000 kids between 2000 and 2010. But CPS’s data show that enrollment has gone down by 30,000. So how did CPS lose 145,000 kids in one decade?
CPS didn’t lose 145,000 kids in one decade. But the city of Chicago did. In 2000, according to the U.S. Census, there were 843,398 children between the ages of 0 and 19 living in Chicago. Ten years later, the U.S. Census counted 699,363 children between 0 and 19 living in Chicago. That means that there were 144,035 fewer children between 0 and 19 living in Chicago in 2010 than in 2000. During that time, CPS enrollment decreased by roughly 30,000 students.
How does CPS decide which schools are underutilized?
CPS has a utilization formula, by which it has classified all schools as underutilized, efficient or overcrowded. The district starts by counting the total number of classrooms in the building. Of that total, 76 to 77 percent are considered “homeroom” classrooms. The remainder of the classrooms is set aside for special use, including art, music, science, early childhood and special education. A school with 24 classrooms would, for instance, have 18 homeroom classrooms. Each homeroom classroom is expected to hold 30 students. So that school, with 24 total classrooms, and 18 homerooms, would have an efficient capacity of 540. If enrollment falls below 80 percent of efficient capacity, the school is considered underutilized. If enrollment rises above 120 percent of efficient capacity, the school is considered overcrowded. If the school with 24 classrooms fell below 432 students, then, it would be considered underutilized. If that school’s enrollment rose above 648 students, it would be considered overcrowded.
How is CPS counting the number of students in a school as it calculates utilization? Is it using relatively lower day-one attendance?
In the data CPS sent to us, and made public, the District used 20th-day enrollment numbers. This has two benefits: One, student enrollment is usually higher on the 20th day than it is on day one, so more of the students at the school are counted. And two, enrollment numbers are higher than attendance numbers, ensuring that all students who are supposed to attend the school are counted and have a seat.