When Chicago closed 50 schools last spring to save money, the closures immediately drew protests that children would be forced to cross gang boundaries to get to new schools.
But the closures have also stirred worries among the thousands of people who relied on the schools to help safeguard poor neighborhoods. Soon, many of those buildings will go as dark and quiet as the boarded-up houses that dot struggling communities.
When she came home late, Carolyn Lang liked knowing that engineers and janitors were working at nearby West Pullman Elementary. They made her feel safer in a community wracked by violence. The school also helped when the lock on her front door froze.
The district wants to find new uses for the buildings, but that will take time.