Giving Compass' Take:

· Parents and community leaders recently gathered together in Chicago to discuss alternative for closing some of the city's public schools due to under enrollment. 

· What were some alternative suggested at this gathering? Why are so many schools losing student enrollment? What funding concerns does this raise?

· Read and learn more about the dwindling number of public school students in the US.

In a district with more than 200 under-enrolled schools, what options do parents and community leaders have besides school closings?

Charging that there is a lack of clear policy direction from City Hall and Chicago Public Schools on the topic, a pair of parent advocacy groups set up a two-day workshop on the West Side to help educate community members on their options — from sharing vacant space with other schools or community groups to lobbying the district for different attendance boundaries or coming up with plans to boost enrollment.

The information was welcome to community organizer Chanita Jones-Howard, a teacher at South Shore International College Preparatory High School who furiously scribbled notes during presentations and brainstormed solutions with other attendees in small group discussions.

She said she feared future school closings could target shrinking neighborhood high schools in the Great Stony Island area, which includes predominantly black communities, such as South Shore, Greater Grand Crossing, Auburn Gresham, and dwindling high schools such as Emil G. Hirsch Metropolitan High School and Harlan Community Academy High School. She wondered whether the school district or city has a long-term vision for neighborhood schools wrestling with shrinking enrollment and disrepair.

“Is there a plan for us specifically? No,” said Chanita Jones-Howard. “Not one that they have shared with us.”

The education advocacy groups, Blocks Together and Raise Your Hand, hosted the event at Beidler Elementary School on the West Side Friday and Saturday, with a focus on mobilizing grassroots efforts on the topic of school facilities planning.

Read the full article about Chicago's public schools and student enrollment by Adeshina Emmanuel at Chalkbeat.