The Walton Family Foundation, one of the nation's biggest financial supporters of the charter-school movement, is underwriting efforts by the Chicago school district to solicit feedback on which city public schools to close, local news magazine Catalyst Chicago reports.
The foundation, led by heirs to the Wal-Mart retail fortune, made a $478,000 grant to the Chicago First Foundation, a nonprofit agency established by the Chicago school system, to conduct community meetings this month on impending closures. The Chicago district is also the leading national recipient of charter-school grants from the Walton charity.
In the past most public schools closed in Chicago have re-opened as charters, according to the magazine. System officials have said the issues of school closings and charters are not linked and that none of the next batch of shuttered schools would become charters, although charter schools could be located in the same neighborhoods.