Marva Collins School to close

June 5, 2008 3:18:30 PM PDT
The school started by legendary Chicago educator Marva Collins will close.Marva Collins, whose work at Westside Preparatory was turned into a movie in the 1980s, has been sought out for her expertise by parents, fellow educators and even President Ronald Reagan-- who courted her for secretary of education.

But Collins is closing her South Side school because, she says, more parents are seeking alternatives to the $5,500 tuition, which has led to a steady decrease in funds.

It's a disappointment to the parents of Rashad Cannon, who graduated from kindergarten on Thursday.

"He stayed a half a day and never returned back to the public school. So we're disappointed to hear the school is going to be closing," said Ramina Velez, parent.

The pre-K through 8th grade school originally called Westside Preparatory is closing after 30 years. Founded in 1975 by Collins, who focused on high-risk children, its soaring achievements brought national attention.

The school is now located on the South Side of the city and ran by Collins' daughter, Cynthia. Over the years, enrollment has dwindled from 130 students to about 30.

The school released a statement on Thursday: We are closing our school . . . because the community we wanted to serve has not supported, or could not support the school, to the extent financial considerations demand.

"My daughter and I went through some really depressing times, but there comes a time in all of our lives when you have to make tough decisions," said Collins.

The parents found out about the decision to close this week.

"The timeliness of the announcement was very unfair," said Ursula Phoenix. She said had she known earlier about the closure she would have enrolled her daughter into one of the two schools her daughter tested into.

"We chose Marva Collins because we felt Marva Collins School and their reputation and the product would guarantee that we would have a good partner in Chloe's education," said Phoenix.

Ted Roberts is also scrambling to find a new school for his son, Jason, who had one year left at Collins Prep. Roberts hopes the school will re-open.

"The more advertising and the more the parents band together to keep our school alive, I think we can thrive if people know we're here," said Roberts.

The school will continue online, offering curriculum and other educational materials. Administrators are also looking at other locations for a new school- but it's not known where or when that school will open.


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