FACED WITH ABOUT 70,000 empty seats, the school district spent a year to develop a plan to "rightsize" the district, or in other words, match the number of students enrolled to the vast portfolio of buildings it owns. The result, announced Thursday, is the closure of 37 schools and changes to 29 others.

The district believes the closures will enable it to:

* Save money by reducing excess capacity;

* Address deferred maintenance and educational adequacy through a new capital improvement program;

* Raise money by selling off some surplus real estate and develop a plan for remaining facilities; and

* Standardize grade configuration to simplify the journey through the city's public schools.