Parents, Teachers Sound Off On School Closing Plans

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.

  • Jim

    I agree that some of the tenured teachers don’t care about the children. We need reform to get our kids learning!

  • tom Sharp

    There are several variables here that argue against closing “under utilized” schools. One problem is transportation and gang territory. If you add transportation and security costs, the “savings” of closing these schools may be reduced significantly. Another problem is what is the formula to determine what is “underutilized” and what are the qualifications of those making the decision? It seems to me some of the same people advocating the combination of schools with low enrollment are the same ones who banged the drums for “small schools.” These schools would seem to be the perfect laboratory to test the small schools theory out.

    Quick, stop-gap measures to shore-up budget problems may well be educationally and financially costly in the long run.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live