Managing Capacity Through School Closures

The Chicago Public Schools system, commonly referred to as CPS, has received some harsh criticism after declaring that there would be massive school closings before the 2014 school year.  The CPS school district has decided to close 53 elementary schools in the Chicagoland area.

As a result of the school closings, hundreds of teachers will lose their jobs or will be transferred to a school that will receive the students from nearby closures.  Not only are the teachers affected by CPS’s decision, but parents have also begun to express their concerns as well.  The current students of closing schools will experience travel distances that are almost double their current commutes which parents believe will add unnecessary danger.

Parent reactions to the school closures have mostly been concerned with the safety of their children.  The surrounding communities have also expressed similar concerns to CPS about overcrowding in the receiving schools and the costs of improvements that will have to be made to these schools. The largest protests have come from the Chicago Teachers Union.  The union is fighting against the massive layoff that will follow the closing of 53 elementary schools and has filed a lawsuit against CPS.

Even through a lawsuit from the Chicago Teachers Union and overall disapproval from the surrounding communities, CPS continues to stand behind their proposal to close the 53 schools.  Why is CPS adamant about the need for closing the 53 schools?  CPS has stated that currently the district schools have the capacity to serve 511,000 students.  However, during the 2013 school year, only 403,000 students were enrolled in the school district.

According to these statistics, the CPS school district is only utilizing 78% of the possible capacity.  The shortage of student enrollment has been very costly for the CPS school district and a problem that needed to be addressed.  In any industry, not utilizing 22% of possible capacity would be a concern.  In such a situation, many companies would try to minimize this shortage.  Two strategies for reducing costs and matching capacity to demand are making staffing changes and closing facilities.

Capacity is a major factor that must be addressed in order for a company to remain profitable.  The Chicago Public School system is attempting to minimize costs and is responding to this situation just as any other business would.  The strategies CPS has elected to implement are generally accepted in many other industries.  The closing of facilities and employee layoffs happen quite frequently throughout the country, but the CPS system is facing much more opposition than other companies usually experience.


Do you think that CPS is facing unfair criticism?

After seeing the enrollment figures, do you believe that the CPS system is acting appropriately in closing the schools?

If not, what would you recommend as a better solution to the issue?,0,2593875.story

One thought on “Managing Capacity Through School Closures

  1. Adapting to change is certainly not an easy thing. The fact that many teachers will now have a different route to work is not the end of the world. If all currently employed teachers are able to get relocated and not laid off, I think it will alleviate the stress of many people. The closing of 53 schools seems a bit extreme in my opinion. It makes perfect sense that CPS is closing down facilities to reduce costs and to utilize its capacity more efficiently. However, I believe their strategic decision might not be the best one simply because it might cause other elementary schools to be overcrowded, which is another huge problem to deal with. In my opinion, CPS should reduce the number of schools they plan to close and observe how other schools and students adopt to the change. This will also allow CPS to create a cost/benefit analysis that will help them make a better decision on how many schools should be closed in the near future.

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