CHICAGO (WBBM) – For 28 days, parents and children have been staging a sit in at the Whittier Elementary School field house at 1990 West 23rd Street.

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They want the building to be saved and turned into a library and parent center. Chicago Public Schools calls it unsafe and wants to demolish it.

 

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But parent Araceli Gonzalez says after a meeting between Chicago Alderman Danny Solis and CPS CEO Ron Huberman, there’s been some progress.

“Now, we’re getting information, we’re getting communication. It’s a start.”

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Gonzalez says parents are presenting Huberman with a list of written requests. She says renovation would cost less than demolition.

“We did this sit-in so Mr. Huberman can hear us. We want to keep our field house, for the library, for the parent community center, to continue our programs,” added Gonzalez. “This is part of Whittier. We always use this building. We need to keep this building for the kids and the community and for the life that Whittier has.”

Several dozen protesters remain camped inside the field house dubbed “La Casita”, which means “the small house”.

The building now holds more than a thousand books, donated in part, by members of the Chicago Teachers Union. The library is decorated with curtains and furnished with donated bookshelves.

The field house had been used in the past by parents as a parent center, a classroom for adults taking GED, ESL, and sewing classes, a daycare center and tutoring center for Whittier students. They want to continue to use the field house as a multipurpose facility and add a school library.

CPS planned to tear down the field house and lay down artificial turf for an athletic field. An engineer hired by the protesters concluded the roof was in need of a repair but the building was otherwise sound. A report issued by an engineer commissioned by CPS found the building was unsafe and therefore needed to be demolished.

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Gonzalez says she and others will continue to occupy the field house round the clock to prevent a date with the wrecking ball.