Chicago Public Schools and Municipal Code on Vacant Buildings

Vacant Schools

Under Municipal Code 13-12-125 Vacant Buildings, the Chicago Public Schools has a responsibility to maintain vacant buildings it owns or manages, this includes the public schools. Shown above is example of what these vacant properties exhibit, graffiti walls, overturned furniture, and harboring illegal drug traffic. Some examples of these responsibilities include: registering the building with the city, paying a registration fee, enclosing and securing the building, posting a sign with the name of the owner, owner’s authorized agent, insure the building, maintain a surety bond posted with the City, and maintain the building with City Building Code.

According to a Substance News Report, “no one at CPS can explain who is responsible for supervision and maintenance of vacant CPS school properties.” (by David Vance) Non compliance with the ordinance and if the building is determined to be a public nuisance, the fines can be up to $5,000 per day. Who is enforcing this on the CPD officials? Can these vacant school buildings be repurposed or sold for the greater community good? What type of uses would be suitable for each area and does the zoning need to be changed? I am still looking for a data set on Chicago Public Schools building inventory to identify how many vacant schools there are in the city.

How could the public be involved in this process?

Here is an example of crowd sourcing map:

Vacant and Condemned properties in Minneapolis


School Closings and School Performance

Save Our School

According to WBEZ in a news article, Few Chicago school closings will move kids to top-performing schools, children are not being moved to higher performance schools, but to similar performing schools. For instance, in Englewood, Goodlow Magnet Elementary closed and Earle is the receiving school. Both of these schools earned the district’s lowest performance scores. Goodlow is better in overall ISAT scores, while Earle is considered the better school by CPS because of its growth in recent years. How does this affect children’s academic performance?

De La Torre, director from the University of Chicago School research, conducted a test of 5,445 Chicago kids test scores whose school closed and noticed almost no effect on academics. The only way improvement was seen is when a kid was move to a top quartile school. 3 cases out of 53 closings are kids being sent from the lowest quartile to the highest quartile.  What type of sentiment analysis can be used in these closings? How are the children being affected by the closings and how can it be measured?


Data Sources:

Illinois Student Report Card: Illinois State Board of Education

The Illinois Sate Board of Education provides a search portal by school that lists the racial/ethnic background, student-to-staff ratios, average class size, time devoted to core subjects, school district finances, and academic performance. This data is in PDF format and needs to be translated into an excel data set.

School Closings

The pink area represent elementary networks, the green is TIF districts, the red dots are school closings (28 so far, still mapping the rest). The blue represents the number of school locations in zoning districts and the blue lines represent safe passage routes. All this data was collected from the Chicago Data Portal shapefiles or csv files.