A Northwest Side daycare center which Chicago Public Schools planned to boot out of a prestigious magnet school is breathing new life.
Staff at KidWatch Plus, 3901 N. Ridgeway Ave,were told in November that CPS would not be renewing their ground floor lease at the Disney II Magnet School when it expires in June.
But just days before the mayoral runoff election, parents and caregivers of children at the center pressured both CPS and the Mayor’s office to reconsider.
And on Friday, in response to Sun-Times questions regarding the lease, CPS said Mayor Emanuel had “heard” the concerns of parents and employees of the daycare center, who were urged to call both CPS and the Mayor’s Office.
“Community members and parents called the Mayor’s Office and CPS asking for reconsideration to extend the lease, given the situation with the archdiocese, and the Mayor heard them,” CPS said in a statement. “CPS representatives will meet with the school next week to discuss potential options for next school year.”
It’s a ray of hope for the parents of 110 children who attend the daycare center, which has been operating for 32 years and offers much needed infant care for working parents, but was threatened by the growth of the school’s 7th to 12th grade campus. Now the daycare center’s directors, who were left scrambling to find space before the lease ends, can breathe a bit easier.
“That’s wonderful news. After 32 years of serving the community, we are hopeful that we will be able to work out a solution with CPS so we can continue to provide a stable, safe and loving environment for our children,” said Beth Strautz, a parent and KidWatch Plus director.
The center’s directors on April 1 sent parents a letter, letting them know that the center would close unless it found new space.They had explored all options possible with CPS, including alternative sites, short-term and temporary leases, but were turned down.
Plans to use a space at St. Ladislaus School at 3330 N. Lockwood were rejected by the Archdiocese of Chicago over concerns about the school’s tax exempt status.
“We are not understanding why we weren’t accepted,” said Strautz, who added the closure of the center would leave 110 children without daycare, and cost 20 teachers their jobs. “We’ll pay your taxes. We’ll figure it out. We just need a home now.”
“We care about our teachers,” she said. “They have been notified that if we don’t get this in 90 days, we’ll all lose our jobs — 110 families are going to lose their quality daycare, and there’s an empty building that we want to move into. What’s really going on?”
The Archdiocese of Chicago did not respond to calls for comment about the lease.
Steve Reaven, of Bowmanville, has a 2-year-old son who attends Kidwatch andis just starting to associate with other kids his age.
“He’s extremely comfortable and the idea of taking him from some place that he’s been and going to some other place, that’s not a very appealing idea,” Reaven said. “Obviously it happens and kids can and do adapt to different circumstances, but as a parent, you’d like to have as much stability in your kids’ lives as possible.”