CEO Byrd-Bennettt: CPS schools will benefit from consolidation - Dallas News |

CEO Byrd-Bennettt: CPS schools will benefit from consolidation

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The deadline on school consolidation in Chicago is less than two weeks away.

Schools Chief Barbara Byrd Bennett is promising safety upgrades, science labs and air conditioning at all schools that receive students from closed schools – and that these changes would contribute to a better work environment.

She said the funding for the upgrades will come from the savings achieved by closing under-utilized schools. Some parents remain skeptical.

Bennett also said there will be individualized teaching plans for all special education students being moved to new schools. But some parents of special education students said that's simply not enough.

"You can't transition autistic children," Lasharr Wilson said. "They don't take well to change. So changing them is going to create behavioral problems in the classroom and at home."

Wilson and other parents of special needs students brought their concerns to school board headquarters on Tuesday.

They said 6,000 special needs children are attending schools on the list of potential closings and called the CPS consolidation plan flawed, because the district has failed to properly assess their children's needs.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett joined Good Day Chicago Wednesday morning to talk about the impact school closures would have on special education students and student safety.

CPS officials say they will save $16 million on student transportation for the year beginning July 1.

Byrd-Bennett said the savings will come from changing bus schedules and routes, and the money will be spent on classrooms.

The bulk of the savings will come from adjusting the times school bells ring and a reduction in the number buses the district uses. Other savings will be achieved by reducing the system's 2,000 daily bus routes.

Officials also plan to reduce costs by using vans instead of standard-sized buses to transport special education students. The district buses 5% of its students and most of them attend selective enrollment programs or have special needs.

Some districts have already closed schools to save money. But according to a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the average savings in the short run for those districts were well under 1 million per school.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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