AP looks at the issue for small school’s in minority area’s in Chicago and Bosto and other area’s….
“We can get some really creative, innovative models, but we need the funding.”
At the same time, these schools are often stretched thin. Very small schools offer fewer clubs, sports and arts programs. Some elementary schools group students from different grades in the same classroom, although Martinez has vowed that won’t happen next year.
Manley Career Academy High School on Chicago’s West Side illustrates the paradox. It now serves 65 students, and the cost per student has shot up to $40,000, even though schools like Manley offer few elective courses, sports and extracurricular activities.
“We’re spending $40,000 per pupil just to offer the bare minimum,” said Hal Woods of the advocacy group Kids First Chicago, which has studied declining enrollment in the district. “It’s not really a $40,000-per-pupil student experience.”
Small schools are popular with families, teachers and community members because of their tight-knit, supportive feel. Some argue districts should pour more dollars into these schools, many in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods hard hit by the pandemic. Schools serve as community hubs and points of local pride even as they lose students — as is the case in North Lawndale.
Race also looms large. Nationally, schools with more students of color are more likely to be closed, and those in affected communities often feel unfairly targeted.
The prospect of closing schools is particularly fraught in Chicago, where 50 schools were shuttered in 2013, most in predominantly Black neighborhoods. The move frayed trust between residents and the district and, according to University of Chicago research, markedly disrupted learning for low-income students.
In Boston, where the district had been losing students well before the pandemic, families are skeptical of closures.
Among the schools most at risk is P.A. Shaw Elementary School in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Revived from a previous closure in 2014, the school had just over 150 students last year, down from 250 in 2018. After making plans to eliminate two classrooms earlier this year — seen by some as a harbinger of closure — the district faced blowback from parents and teachers….
In Los Angeles and New York City, officials say they’re focused on luring students back into the system, not school closures.
But federal relief money will run out soon: districts must budget that money by September 2024. When it does, districts may be hard pressed to keep all of their small schools afloat….