Chicago Public Schools announced plans to open several new schools for former high school dropouts, despite large-scale budget cuts and widespread protests over school closures in the city.
The city currently has several schools and centers designed to re-engage youth who are not enrolled in school or who are unlikely to graduate, but on Wednesday the Board of Education voted to open another contract school for this purpose. The board will vote on the opening of more contract schools and a multi-site charter school in the near future, according to a CPS press release.
There are currently 60,000 Chicago-area students who are either not enrolled in school or are at risk of not graduating due to lack of credits. This re-engagement initiative would seek to re-engage nearly 20,000 of these youth within the next five years, Catalyst Chicago notes.
“We will not give up on any student. Doubling the number of quality options and alternative pathways to nontraditional learning environments allows us to help our hardest to reach children and provide them a chance to succeed,” CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a news release.
“With parents, teachers and principals working together, we can bring students who are out of school or off-track back onto a path to reaching their goals,” she added.
The proposal hopes to place “additional seats [for the schools] in neighborhoods with the greatest need.”
The proposals were discussed at a contentious board meeting Wednesday where recent budget cuts were a hot-button issue. Tensions came to a head when student demonstrators lamented the impact of budget cuts on their education.
“We are the students we deserve to participate in our education. These are our schools,” one student demonstrator yelled.
The Chicago school board voted to close 49 of the city’s schools this spring. Several weeks later, they announced budget cuts that stretched into the millions for some schools.