Six CPS schools to stay open

February 24, 2009 (CHICAGO) But more than a dozen other schools will not be as fortunate.

There were 22 schools on the hotlist to close, consolidate or be turned around. But after hearing testimony and evidence from principals, teachers, parents and community leaders, new Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman made the decision to spare six of those schools. As a result, many now say they have more confidence in the public hearing process.

Yale Elementary sits in the heart of Englewood. The Chicago Public School is where actress/singer Jennifer Hudson attended. Despite her success, the school has had very little academic success, until Mamie Harris says she became principal three years ago.

"When I came to Yale in 2006, the reading was 19.7. And now we are currently reading at 48.4. The math scores were 8.2. And now we are 43.4," said Harris.

Despite the improvements, Yale was on the list to turn-around. That's when the entire staff, principal and all are replaced. But, two weeks ago, Harris had the chance in a hearing to convince new CPS CEO Ron Huberman to remove Yale from the list. Harris brought with her dozens of parents and community leaders including Reginald Summerrise.

"I said to them, 'With those kind of test scores, I would like to think that Yale has already gone through the turnaround process,' " said Harris.

And Huberman agreed giving Yale and five other schools a second chance, including Hamilton on the North Side. It was slated to close for under enrollment. Now, Hamilton will stay open.

"We're going to work together with CPS and the community to market the school and make sure we have a higher enrollment in the future," said Stacey Paradis, Hamilton Elementary principal.

But not everyone was so happy. Sixteen schools remain on the closure or shake-up list. Parents protested the closure of Abbott Elementary on the South Side on Tuesday morning.

"Why do we want to take our kids out of the district when we have a perfectly good school right here that's in the neighborhood?" said Mary Hooper, parent.

Chicago Public Schools says Abbott has consistently underperformed.

"Right now we don't have any evidence to support why that school would remain open. I think it was slated for closure last year and was maybe perhaps even given an opportunity to show improvement," said Monique Bond, CPS spokesperson.

As for the six schools that were spared, Monique Bond says it shows how important the public hearing process is. In the future, she encourages faculty and parents to make their case.

The school board is expected to vote on the issue Tuesday.

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