UPDATED: 10/20/10 4:47 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Parents and activists have reached a tentative deal with the Chicago Public Schools that could end a month-long standoff at Whittier Elementary School.

Parents met Wednesday morning with Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman to reach a deal to build a new library inside the school.


LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger Reports

Huberman said tax-increment financing money can pay for the library, but it remains unclear where the library will be built in the school. Parents had pushed for a library in an old field house, adjacent to the school.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports that the agreement so far is that the field house, where parents set up a make-shift library and have lived for more than a month, will stay for now.

Officials will take a month to determine whether it’s feasible to renovate the old building – named La Casita by the parents – while looking for space in the main school building for a library.

Whittier parents hugged and celebrated at CPS headquarters in the Loop Wednesday, claiming a win in their fight for a library.

Whittier parents hugged and celebrated at CPS headquarters in the Loop Wednesday, claiming a win in their fight for a library.

“Hopefully, we’ve all learned from this lesson that you can’t silence community and you can’t silence parents,” Carolina Gaete said.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman insisted the parents’ 36-day sit-in was not the reason for the agreement.

“I think we would have gotten to resolution regardless of … how this got escalated,” Huberman said. “We’re going to continue to meet to figure out what is the best way to get a library into the school.”

Parents think otherwise.

“Well, of course. I mean, I believe we wouldn’t have been at this point. There wouldn’t have been no field house,” Gaete said

Fellow Whittier parent Lisa Angonese said, “There was a point there where the demolition crew was there – I believe this was the middle of September – and we chased them away.”

In the past week or so, Huberman has said it was difficult to justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this project when there are almost 200 other schools without a library.

“We’re going to find a way to get it done,” Huberman said.

As for the parents, they said they’re not going anywhere until they have a signed agreement. The agreement still has to be approved by CPS lawyers, and parents said the sit-in will continue until those details are settled.

As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the meeting was held Chicago Public Schools Headquarters, 125 S. Clark St. But only seven parents were allowed to attend.

Parents previously have protested that there is no way the main school building can accommodate a new library.

“There’s no room, and if there is room, he needs to fix other problems first. There is no room. And I need to see proof of what they’re going to do; what works; any paperwork,” said parent Araceli Gonzalez. “We don’t trust (Huberman.) I don’t trust him.”

Huberman has said the field house is not an option for a permanent library.

Originally, CPS had planned to have the field house torn down to make way for a soccer field. School officials said the building was structurally unsafe, but activists commissioned their own engineering study that concluded it was not.

Thirty-six days ago, they began occupying the field house on the Whittier grounds. At one point, school officials turned off the heat, and drew the wrath of the City Council in doing so.

The battle between CPS and Whittier has garnered national attention since it began.

 

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CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli, Regine Schlesinger, and Mike Krauser contributed to this report.