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Chicago Public Schools seek taxpayer funds to renovate nearly empty schools

A report shows that Chicago Public Schools are seeking about $14 billion to renovate their schools. With one-third of the schools less than half full, alternatives are being suggested.

The Chicago Public School system has 522 buildings, and school officials claim many are in desperate need of renovations even though one-third of the city’s 473 schools are at less than 50% capacity.

The report by Wirepoints shows that the schools are seeking $14.4 billion to address emergency building repairs and that $1 billion of the taxpayer funds is for the district’s 20 mostly empty schools. 

Ted Dabrowski of Wirepoints told The Center Square that CPS should close many of the schools lacking students.

“They [CPS] are a fiscal mess, to begin with,” Dabrowski said. “One of the big problems they have is that they will not close empty schools. They won’t close those that are literally 5% filled or 10% filled.” 

Douglass High School is slated to get $34 million for renovations even though the school only has 34 students enrolled. 

Dabrowski said CPS could find a better way to spend that money. 

“They want to spend billions more, and instead of taking whatever little money they have and properly spending it to improve outcomes, they are just wasting money on failing empty schools,” Dabrowski told The Center Square. 

With one-third of the schools being less than 50% full, consolidating the empty schools could be an option. 

“Why not have these kids go somewhere else,” Dabrowski said. “Already families have abandoned these schools. The question for CPS is, ‘why are you keeping empty, failing schools open?’ Shut them and use the money elsewhere or give the money back to the taxpayers.” 

Student enrollment in Chicago has dropped about 27% over the past 20 years.

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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