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Study: Local Schools Overcrowded By State, City Standards

By Sam Charles | Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jahn Elementary School. Credit: Flickr/pjchmiel.

The 2012 Chicago Teachers’ Union strike left many questions unanswered.

Though contract disputes between the union and CPS were resolved, questions of school closures lingered even after teachers left the picket line and returned to the classroom.

CPS and the union both acknowledged that some schools would be closed. Those schools on the chopping block, though, would only be ones with low enrollment. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has recently proposed a five-year moratorium on potential school closings.

However, a recent study commissioned by Raise Your Hand Illinois, an educational advocacy group made up of public school parents, shows that 76 percent of K-8 CPS schools are overcrowded.

Compared with class size averages throughout the state, the 12 K-8 CPS schools within Center Square Journal’s and Roscoe View Journal’s coverage area were all classified as overcrowded. However, only three are considered overcrowded when put up against averages within the rest of the Chicago Public Schools System.

Ideally, CPS aims to have a 28:1 student to teacher ratio in grades K-3 and a 31:1 ratio in grades 4-8, according to the district’s policy. Throughout the state, there is an average of 20.9-22.9 students per class in grades K-8.

Jahn Elementary School, Waters School and Chappell School all have three grade levels above the district’s preference. Burley Elementary School and Bell Elementary School have two grades that average more than CPS’ preference. Audubon Magnet School, Blaine Elementary School, McPherson Elementary School and Budlong Elementary School all have one grade above CPS’ preference.

  • Jahn averages 32 students per class in grades 6, 7 and 8.
  • Waters averages 31 students per grade 1 classroom, 29.5 students per grade 3 classroom and 35 students per grade 6 classroom.
  • Chappell averages 29 students per grade 3 classroom, 38 students per grade 6 classroom and 36 students per grade 7 classroom.
  • Burley averages 29 students per kindergarten and grade 3 classroom.
  • Bell averages 32 students per grade 7 classroom and 33 students per grade 8 classroom.
  • Audubon averages 31 students per grade 1 classroom.
  • Blaine averages 31.5 students per grade 7 classroom.
  • McPherson averages 39 students per grade 4 classroom.
  • Budlong averages 34 students per grade 6 classroom.

Jeanne Marie Olson, a CPS Parent, conducted the study, titled “Apples to Apples.” The information was collected from various publicly available outlets, according to the study’s website.

In a statement, a Raise Your Hand Illinois said the group would be releasing more findings in the near future from current investigations.

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