The Cost of School Closures

Faced with declining enrollment and budget cuts, school districts in major U.S. cities are considering closing schools. Students in these districts will be rerouted to different schools, some much further away from their homes. Districts can allocate that the money that would be used to repair old buildings to instead pay teachers and upgrade equipment. Some say it’s a way to save money, others say it destroys communities.

The Philadelphia School District might have to close as many as 37 schools by June. The district says this will improve the quality of the remaining schools. Though many of these schools suffer from low attendance, educators fear that closing these schools will undo the efforts to fix the problem. Between closings, program changes and new grade configurations, the closings could affect as many as 17,000 students.

Unfortunately, Philadelphia isn’t the only city facing massive closures. Chicago could close as many as 129 schools this year, though that list – initially released by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – will likely be pared down by Chicago Public Schools Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett. But the plan has strong, high-profile critics. “This whole approach that you can fix the schools by closing them sounds a lot like Vietnam: You can save the village by bombing it,” Diane Ravitch, assistant secretary of education under George H.W. Bush and current New York University professor told the Chicago Sun-Times in an interview.

By the end of 2013, Detroit will have closed 44 schools over two years. But beyond low student attendance and run-down buildings, many schools lack the funds to pay teachers. Washington, Cleveland and Kansas City, Mo. are all facing similar troubles. Meanwhile, the threat of sequestration cuts makes the future even less certain.

Do you think that school closings are harmful or eventually helpful to a district? Have you faced this in your school?

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3 Responses to “The Cost of School Closures”

  1. Guillermo WeaverJuly 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    “We do not have a utilization crisis. What we have is a credibility crisis. CPS continues to peddle half-truths, lies and misinformation in order to justify its campaign to wipe out our schools and carry out this corporate-driven school reform nonsense. CPS continues to peddle an ‘underutilization myth’ and ‘billion dollar deficit lie’ as justification for their actions. When research and the facts prove them wrong they simply reconfigure their talking points in order to further perpetrate their sham and to keep us playing their school reform games.

  2. Guadalupe RyanMay 17, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    “Morgan has been trying to set up as a specialty school servicing the needs of kids who are deaf or hard of hearing. It has three full-time teachers who do sign language. One-third of that school is special needs kids,” Brookins said in defense of the school, adding that he will push to keep the schools open.

  3. Lorna DonaldsonMay 17, 2013 at 2:42 am #

    “We do not have a utilization crisis. What we have is a credibility crisis. CPS continues to peddle half-truths, lies and misinformation in order to justify its campaign to wipe out our schools and carry out this corporate-driven school reform nonsense. CPS continues to peddle an ‘underutilization myth’ and ‘billion dollar deficit lie’ as justification for their actions. When research and the facts prove them wrong they simply reconfigure their talking points in order to further perpetrate their sham and to keep us playing their school reform games.

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