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Parents, Teachers Sound Off On School Closing Plans

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CPS Meeting

Parents and teachers sounded off Monday night on the Chicago Public Schools’ plan to close and consolidate several schools. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Emotions ran high Monday night at a special meeting designed to talk about the Chicago Public Schools’ latest plan to consolidate or close several schools.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, at a public hearing at the Erie Neighborhood House, 1701 W. Superior St., parents complained the decision was made unfairly and without community input.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

More than 100 parents, teachers and students attended the packed hearing.

“They don’t care about our kids, they don’t care about the teachers and staff members, and I’m sick of it,” one woman said.

“It’s a disgrace,” another woman said.

CPS announced plans last week to close eight schools and consolidate them into six others. If the CPS plan is approved by the Board of Education next month, hundreds of students would be moved to new schools next year.

The move would mean eight schools would lose their identities and principals and as many as 100 teachers would be displaced.

One of the affected schools is Jacob Beidler Elementary, at 3151 W. Walnut St., on the city’s West Side. The CPS plan calls for closing Beidler and moving its students to Cather Elementary School a few blocks away at 2908 W. Washington Blvd. Beidler and a nearby campus park would be handed over to Urban Prep Charter High-East Garfield Park, which needs more space.

Shirley Stevens is a teacher at Beidler, and believes the move could be dangerous for students.

“They have slated almost 500 students to move to Cather, eight blocks away, gang territory, crossing lines, and they’re going to be displaced,” she said.

But last week, CPS chief executive officer Terry Mazany said Beidler is a better setting for the boys-only high school than Cather, which currently shares its building with Urban Prep. Plus, Mazany said last week, “The community needs a good high school.”

The plan would impact 4,800 students at 17 schools. The Board of Education will likely vote on the proposal last month.

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