How Classroom Sizes Affect Chicago Real Estate

Today the Chicago Public Schools teachers union is expected to file a lawsuit attempting to prevent CPS from an across-the-board classroom-size increase. It's a final effort in the classroom-size war from the embattled union, one which will once again draw attention to the fact that CPS is in trouble.

As a CPS alum from Kindergarten through High School, I am fully aware of the problems of running a massive public school system. There will always be shortages. However, this latest budgeting black eye will cause more families to opt for suburban public education.
NORTHFIELD, IL - SEPTEMBER 2:  Chicago public school kids and their parents arrive for the first day of school at New Trier High School September 2, 2008 in Northfield, Illinois. The kids and their parents, who were boycotting schools in Chicago, were trying to bring attention to the funding differences between Chicago schools at $10,400 per pupil and New Tier at  $17,000.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Much has been made of the suburb-to-city migration of middle- and upper-class families in Chicago, particularly during the real estate spike of the late 1990s through early 2000s. And this pattern was fueled by the fact that CPS was creating new options: expanding the magnet school program, enhancing curriculum and creating long-term goals for CPS. Families in gentrified Chicago neighborhoods, in particular, found ways to make CPS work. It became an attractive option, compared to suburban public schools.
However this current trend of ever-increasing classroom sizes, shrinking budgets and upper-level mismanagement will undoubtedly discourage suburban families from sending their kids to CPS, and accordingly keep them from purchasing single-family homes in Chicago. The numbers initially show this to be the case, with more middle- and lower-class families opting for the suburbs the later half of the decade. Put simply, schools drive single-family home sales.
So the next question is: Are the suburban school districts ready to handle an increase in students? Those that are capable can brace for higher enrollment in the coming years.

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