Chicago Board of Ed to vote on school closings

CHICAGO — The Chicago Board of Education is expected to take a final vote on whether to close 53 schools.

The board is scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider a plan that has sparked protests and lawsuits.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett say the closings are necessary to improve the struggling district's finances. They say too many buildings are half-empty and Chicago Public Schools cannot afford to keep them open. They've pledged students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically.

Critics say the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.

The board of education, which is appointed by Emanuel, could vote to close some or all of the targeted schools.