For 28 Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday, the final bell will ring for the last time — ever.
Teachers and students at closing schools like Elihu Yale Elementary School in Englewood told the Sun-Times they anticipate plenty of tears when the final bell rings.
“Girls are going to be crying when it’s time to go home,” 13-year-old Kameisha Ashford told the paper.
The first round of 28 schools will close for good Wednesday:
Yale Altgeld, Louis Armstrong, Banneker, Bethune, Bontemps, Calhoun North, Delano, Emmet, Goldblatt, Henson, Herbert, Key, King, Kohn, Lafayette, May, Morgan, Overton, Paderewski, Parkman, Pope, Ryerson, Songhai, West Pullman, Williams Elementary and Middle, and Woods.
More schools will have their last day ever in the coming weeks.
“It’s really a sad day,” West Pullman special education teacher Sheryl Campbell, who is now without a job, told the Sun-Times Wednesday morning. “I just worry about the kids’ safety as far as going to a new school...Hopefully their needs will be met.”
CPS parents and the Chicago Teachers Union have filed at least three lawsuits to halt the closures. Court intervention or longshot legislation from Springfield are the last hope for the schools, though WGN notes both are unlikely.
On the eve of the first wave of closures, CTU President Karen Lewis spewed fierce criticism of district officials during a speech she gave at a City Club luncheon Tuesday.
“When the Cubs lose a game, they don’t call for Wrigley Field to close down,” Lewis said. “They don’t want the entire team dismantled. And despite some empty seats, the stadium isn’t accused of being underutilized.”
Lewis also blasted big banks and "rich white people" for the financial calamity that have led to school closings, DNAinfo Chicago reports.
"Rich white people think they know what's in the best interests of children of African-Americans and Latinos," Lewis said. "There's something about these folks who use little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference while announcing they want to fire, lay off or lock up their parents at another."
Later Tuesday evening, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told NBC, "No one believes CPS, no one trusts us, and I think the only way you can attack that belief is to continue to be as engaged as you can with as many aspects of the community."
The CEO predicted all-around improvements, from student performance to attendance, if her five-year plan is implemented.
Also Tuesday, CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey lamented the school closures outside of the soon-to-be-shuttered Lafayette Elementary School in Humboldt Park. Accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of investing "unnecessary" funds in other parts of the city, Sharkey told ABC Chicago,
"We've marched, we've filed lawsuits, we've spoken at hundreds of hearings. This is a school that survived two great wars and the Great Depression but didn't survive Rahm Emanuel."