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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Chicago’s empty high schools

Although Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is “essentially bankrupt,” the district is operating dozens of half-empty schools, reports Chicago City Wire.


Forty-two of 59 high schools (71 percent) were less than half full, according to City Wire.  Twelve “had enrollments that are less than 10 percent of what they once served.”

Team Englewood is in a building that once housed more than 5,100 students. Only 161 are enrolled now. On an average day 122 students show up for class.

Harper, which once had 4,400 students, now has 172.

Fenger is down from 5,300 to 223.

Hirsch enrolls 147 students; the building has space for 3,280.

In 1966, CPS enrollment was 607,550 and growing. The district had 53 high schools. In the 2016-17 school year, it will be 60 percent lower– just 381,449– and falling. Yet CPS will operate 95 high schools this year, according to its web site.

A Chicago high school fudged its graduation rate for seven years, the district’s inspector general reports. A former administrator tells WBEZ that dropouts were listed as transfers or homeschooled to boost the graduation rate.

After a WBEZ investigation, district officials recalculated graduation rates: The numbers fell at nearly all high schools.

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