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With zero students, Englewood high headed toward formal closure after just 12 years

Creative Commons / Charles Wiriawan

Completing the phase-down of TEAM Englewood Community Academy, the Chicago school district proposed Friday to make official what the empty campus has made clear for months: that the school should formally cease to exist at the end of the school year.

Faced with declining enrollment, the district has planned to close TEAM Englewood along with three other high schools in the Englewood neighborhood. In their place, a new science and technology high school will open next fall in Englewood. The school board will vote Wednesday on shuttering TEAM Englewood, and on the fate of new and current charter schools as well as district-run campuses.

Last school year, TEAM Englewood — which the district opened only in 2007 — had shrunk to 76 students, who either graduated or transferred to other high schools in June.

Harper High School and John Hope Academy are also no longer admitting new students. The new high school is under construction on the campus of Robeson High School, which was closed last summer.

Five years ago, as Chicago schools’ enrollment plummeted, the district staged the country’s biggest mass closing of schools. The closings caused upheaval especially in poor neighborhoods, and the school board last month agreed to target lightly enrolled schools for aid rather than closure.

However, the district is still wrestling with dramatically shrinking enrollment and the attendant budget squeeze from lower revenues, which the state parcels out based on enrollment.

In its new strategy, Chicago Public Schools is closing a slew of neighborhood schools with low enrollment while also building new schools that include high-demand academic programs.

Community members protested the district’s initial plan to close the Englewood high schools before completing the new high school. In response, the district decided to phase out TEAM Englewood, Harper and John Hope.

While that move allows students to remain in their high schools and then advance to the new school, the dwindling student body in the targeted schools has had to contend with fewer resources.

“You no longer have an art class … you no longer have a real gym class,” one teacher told WBEZ.

The district proposes to close TEAM Englewood on July 1. Parents, students and community members will have the chance to comment on the decision at three community meetings: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 8 and Jan. 17 at Kershaw Elementary; and 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at CPS headquarters at 42 W. Madison.

The district also announced Friday a proposal to alter the boundaries and grade structures at Orozco Community Academy and Cooper Dual Language Academy, two schools in the Pilsen neighborhood.

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