The Illinois House today voted to give Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education team another four months to come up with a list of school closings.
The Senate then passed its own bill, but the two chambers must pass the same actual legislation before it can move to the governor’s desk.
The measure gained steam as Chicago Public Schools face a Saturday deadline to release a list of closings — a prospect that raised fears among lawmakers that decisions would be made haphazardly and without enough community input. The legislation moves the deadline for the closing announcement until March 31.
The House sent the bill to the Senate on an 84-28 vote, with two lawmakers voting present.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, the Chicago Democrat who sponsored pushing back the date, said the extra time will allow for more input from parents and communities as a special panel holds hearings on the volatile closing issue.
“Let’s give them time to do it right,” Currie said.
Currie said the proposal recognized that the newly appointed schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, deserved a chance to work out a thoughtful and carefully drawn list of school closings. The closings would be for the next school year beginning in September 2013.
The bill also would move from an overall master plan due date from Jan. 1, 2013, to May 1, 2013.
This week, Emanuel vowed that if he got an extension from lawmakers on announcing this year’s closings, CPS will put a five-year moratorium on shutting down schools.
Rep. Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago, said the legislation was an agreement “tweaked” in an effort to ensure the best interests of children.
Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago, asked to hold off on a vote because he wanted answers on which groups supported and opposed the latest version of the bill because the revised measure was put together without a chance for everyone to be completely briefed.
“What is wrong with pulling this out of the record for now” for clarity about a potentially massive change? Dunkin asked.
The Senate version was sponsored by Sen. Iris Martinez, D-Chicago. It was passed 57-0.