CHICAGO — Five years after the largest mass closure of public schools in an American city, Chicago is forging ahead with a plan to shut four more in one of the city’s highest-crime and impoverished areas.
School officials are pitching the new closures around Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, to make way for a new $85 million school they insist will better serve students and reverse low enrollment.
But some parents, students, and activists are skeptical, saying that they’re still reeling from the 2013 closures, and that the latest plan will make things worse, including the displacement of hundreds of mostly black and poor teenagers.
‘‘The last thing they should do is close our schools,’’ said 16-year-old Miracle Boyd, a student at John Hope College Prep, which could close.
‘‘They aren’t the ones sitting in those chairs five days a week, struggling to learn because we don’t have the necessities we need as students,” Boyd said. “Why not use the $85 million to improve our education and get our schools on the road to success?’’
Like other cities, Chicago has long relied on closures to address underperforming and underutilized schools. The city made history in 2013, when it closed roughly 50 schools, affecting more than 12,000 students.
The debate over the city’s latest proposed closures has exploded recently, with shouting matches and emotional pleas during community meetings. Residents have pleaded with the district to invest more in neighborhood schools and safety.