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Central Area - Overview

Explore this section to learn important background information about the region.

The CPS Annual Regional Analysis (ARA) is a collection of reports designed to inform conversations with communities to address the question - what school options do families and communities need?

The purpose of the ARA is to support CPS’s goal to provide every student with a high-quality education in every neighborhood. These reports aim to ensure that every student in Chicago has access to quality public schools and a variety of programs.

The reports present CPS data in one place, without making recommendations or suggestions for action. They give stakeholders consistent information about school quality, enrollment patterns, school choice, and program offerings by region.

Structure & Organization

The ARA consists of a district report and 16 regional reports. The City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development created boundaries for regions based on housing and employment research. Natural borders such as rivers and train lines divide each region. These borders are likely considerations for families when selecting a school. The ARA uses these regions as they are more consistent than city wards or school networks.

The ARA includes all CPS schools, including traditional neighborhood schools, Charter schools, Selective Enrollment, Magnet, Special Education Specialty, and Options High Schools.


Region Map

The Central Area region's boundaries are, generally, Division Street on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, the Stevenson Expressway on the south, and by North Halsted Street and the Kennedy / Dan Ryan Expressway on the west. It contains parts of 10 wards, 19 neighborhoods, and 8 community areas. It is served by 29 CTA train stops and 9 Metra stops..

Central Area region map

* Denotes Options/alternative or special education specialty school

School Type


Attendance Area


Attendance Area

Racial/Ethnic Composition

The Central Area region over the last four years has remained relatively diverse.

In the racial/ethnic composition of the Central Area student population, the majority of students identify as Black or Asian, although in the past four years the percentage of students identifying as Black has increased from 32% to 35% while the percentage of students identifying as Asian has decreased from 31% to 28%.

The majority of the students in the northern and southeast portions of the Central Area region identify as Black, with the southwest portion being primarily students identifying as Asian.

Race/Ethnicity Composition Over Time


Racial and Ethnic composition map of Central Area

Race and ethnicity legend

NOTE: This map combines the racial/ethnic identity of students who live in each area (hexagon) of the region. The design of this map protects individual student’s identities while displaying the distribution of race/ethnicity and student density in the region.

The legend shows how the colors associated with each racial/ethnic identity blend together. Areas (hexagons) that show more of one color than another have a higher density of that racial/ethnic identity. Areas with no distinct color are more diverse.

Areas (hexagons) that show brighter colors mean more students live there. Areas that show lighter colors mean fewer students live there. Areas that are pure white have no students that live in them. These areas tend to be industrial or recreational/green spaces.

Free and Reduced Lunch Rates

In the past four years, the percentage of students qualifying for Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) has increased from 47% to 48%. The percentage of students qualifying for FRL in the region is lower than the overall district percentage of 73%. 1, 2

The Central Area region mostly encompasses neighborhoods of high median household income, with some lower-income neighborhoods in the southwest part of the region.

Free and Reduced Lunch Rate Over Time


1Before 2015, CPS relied on the Nutrition Services department to administer, communicate, and collect the FRL forms. When the federal lunch program was expanded to all students, CPS needed to administer a separate “Fee Waiver Form” that replaced the FRL form. As fee waivers continue to be collected throughout the school year, the percentage of qualifying students increases.

2FRL data is from the 20th day of each school year. Data from SY21 and SY22 was impacted in part by the COVID-19 global pandemic and the ability to administer and collect FRL forms during remote learning.

Median Household Income map Central Area


less than $35,000
$35,000 to $59,999
$60,000 to $84,999
$85,000 to $109,999
$110,000 to $134,999
$135,000 or greater

Download District Data

Download ARA Data