CPS delays plan for high school, 2 grade schools to share building

SHARE CPS delays plan for high school, 2 grade schools to share building

Parents and teachers celebrated Wednesday that Chicago Public Schools decided to postpone plans to put a high school into the Little Village elementary school building already shared by Saucedo Scholastic Academy and Telpochcalli School. But they warned the Board of Education they will keep fighting any future plans they think hurt any of the schools.

CPS education chief Janice Jackson confirmed at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday that the district would not pursue in February a proposal that had caught the two elementary communities by surprise: the addition of several Spry Community Links High School grades to their building at 2832 W. 24th Blvd.

Community members had vocally opposed the plan, saying there wasn’t enough space to add more students to an already overcrowded building that boasted strong academics and special programs. Elementary parents also were concerned about mixing older teenagers with small children attending the grade schools, though CPS said they’d renovate the building to add a separate Spry entrance.

Several dozen parents and children even staged a sit-in last week to occupy the school gym.

Some of Spry’s high-schoolers share space with its own elementary school at 2400 S. Marshall Blvd; the rest use space CPS leases from the Boys and Girls club for $90,000 a year.

“At the request of the community, CPS has decided to postpone that colocation,” Jackson said. “We have agreed to meet with the community monthly so that we can get the input that is necessary to make sure that the colocation at Saucedo is effective.

“Voices have been heard.”

The Board of Education is still scheduled to vote on other building-sharing proposals in February. No one from CPS would say when a decision on Saucedo might be reached.

Jackson also apologized that notifications announcing the abrupt canceling of a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the merger wasn’t communicated widely — or in Spanish, the first language of many families affected by the change.

Several speakers Wednesday told board members that top-down plans wouldn’t work.

“We support a community plan that recognizes the uniqueness of all the schools,” said Fanny Diego Alvarez, a community organizer from Enlace Chicago.

“Such a process requires time and cannot be rushed, and it cannot be imposed. It cannot be determined by an outside voice as to what that looks like,” she said.

Jorge Mojarro from Telpochcalli said the community would do the work to find a solution if CPS respected that process.

“You stated that you wanted to find solutions for the colocation,” he said. “But we’re not looking for solutions for your colocation, rather we’re looking for one solution that supports all schools in the community.”

And Saucedo kindergarten teacher Martha Arriaga thanked CPS officials for listening.

“But we are not stopping there,” she said. “We want to stop the colocation. We have three excellent schools.”

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