Nearly 13,000 Empty Seats in Chicago Charter Schools – Increase of more than 1,000 Since 2014

Raise Your Hand Calls on CPS to Stop Irresponsible School Expansions During Fiscal Crisis and Lowest Enrollment in Decades

Contact: Amy Smolensky, 312 485 0053; Wendy Katten 773 704 0336

Chicago – In an independent investigation of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) data from the 2014-15 school year, parent education advocacy group Raise Your Hand has revealed that there are currently 12,637 empty seats in existing charter schools based on the CPS threshold for ideal enrollment. This equates to 64 schools or 50 percent of Chicago charter schools.

“The issue here is that CPS continues to rapidly expand charters at a time of fiscal crisis and declining enrollment, starving existing schools of needed resources. The money and students are not there to justify this,” said Executive Director of Raise Your Hand, Wendy Katten.

These revelations combined with an enrollment decline of over 7,000 students since 2012 and mass charter, contract and alternative high school expansion since the district closed 50 district schools for “underutilization” have parents and community members across the city demanding a halt to charter expansion.  In light of its findings, Raise Your Hand is calling on Chicago elected officials to support efforts to curb proliferation of charter expansion during this time of fiscal crisis and declining enrollment. 

Parent and Raise Your Hand Board member, Jennie Biggs added, “The number one type of school with waiting lists in Chicago are magnet schools, with over 99,000 applications each year according to WBEZ data.  Parent decisions clearly are not what’s driving the decisions to open more charter schools.”

Download the comprehensive list of charter schools with empty seats based on CPS’ space utilization data (subtracting reported enrollment from CPS’s ideal capacity figures.  For 2014 comparison numbers, please e-mail