By Linda Lutton and Sarah Karp, wbez.org
More than 300,000 students will head back to Chicago public schools on Tuesday to start a new year that will present the district with a host of challenges. From finances to politics to classroom life, WBEZ’s education team put together a cheat sheet of what to watch this school year.
1) Plummeting enrollment
CPS has been hemorrhaging students for years, and it expects enrollment will drop this year by another 8,000 students. Last year, CPS saw an enrollment loss of 11,000 students, the largest single-year drop in recent history. More than one-third of the district’s African-American students — 83,000 black children — have left the school system since 2000. It’s the largest exodus from Chicago schools since white flight in the 1970s. These major student declines mean cuts to individual school budgets, layoffs, and potential school closings. This year, CPS expects 306,000 students in the district-run public schools and another 58,000 in the city’s charter schools, which are privately run but publicly funded.