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updated: 3/6/2013 9:11 PM

Commission comes up with school closing numbers in Chicago

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Associated Press

A commission formed to determine how to reduce the number of Chicago schools says the school district has the capacity to close or consolidate 80 schools this year.

The commission, created by Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, asserts closing an underutilized school "should be considered only if its students can transfer safely to a better-performing school."

The commission, chaired by former ComEd CEO Frank Clark, also recommends school officials look beyond utilization data and consider other factors, including the needs of students with disabilities. It says the consolidations should be done in at most two years and money should be spent to do it right.

The district has identified 129 schools that could be closed. Officials say many buildings have too few students to justify keeping them open.

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