UPDATED: 10/19/2010 6:36 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Public Schools are offering a compromise to end the stalemate over a field house at Whittier Elementary School, but parents aren’t ready to end their sit-in just yet.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the parents want the field house on the school grounds at 1900 W. 23rd St. turned into a library for students. CPS officials said the facility was structurally unsound and planned to have it demolished for a soccer field.
At 5 a.m. Tuesday, a security detail was keeping a watch on the dilapidated field house, in which angry protesters have been sleeping for more than a month in a bid to save it. On Monday, following an 11th-hour proposal from CPS, in some senses, it appears that they’ve won.
“We’re proposing, rather, that the building be leased for $1 a year to a non-profit community organization that could then manage the building and fully utilize it as a community resource,” CPS chief executive officer Ron Huberman said.
Huberman also promised a library at the school, but not in the field house.
“CPS will create and staff a library inside the Whittier school building,” he said.
He said a free-standing library in the field house is not safe, and would not be cost-effective.
“This school had need, but I can’t in any way justify spend the millions of dollars it would take to build a standalone library, particularly when I have 160 schools that don’t have any library,” Huberman said.
Huberman also said Whittier has benefited from a massive amount of capital spending in an extremely tough budgetary environment.
“So far, since last year, we’ve spent over $2 million upgrading the Whittier facility,” Huberman said.
But parents at the school are not satisfied. One parent said there is no way the main school building can accommodate a new library.
“We are not declaring victory,” said Whittier parent Evelin Santos. “We are telling Ron Huberman, where exactly are you putting this library in the building. There is no room there…. If he’s planning to have the library inside the principal’s office, that’s the only room that’s left.”
Santos also said the Whittier Parent Committee should be the non-profit that receives the lease for the field house.
“The Whittier Parent Committee is already incorporated. They’re already a non-profit. Lease it to them,” Santos said.
Huberman plans to meet with the protesters on Wednesday to hear what they have to say about his proposal. But the activists say they don’t plan to be there.