2 schools on closure list to stay open

February 23, 2010 8:13:36 PM PST
Two Chicago neighborhoods won the fight to prevent their schools from closing. Prescott and Marconi Elementary are being removed from the list of schools slated for action such as closure or consolidation.

The list will be presented to the Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday.

Critics say Chicago's reform plan is flawed and unfair and they want it changed.

Tuesday morning Prescott Elementary School was fighting a death sentence with community and school leaders fighting to keep it open. By Tuesday night, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman granted the reprieve they sought. The school will remain open, much to the delight of parents.

"Every school has its own story. Ours is probably not any more compelling than any other one. It's fortunate we were able to get the facts in the hands of someone who makes the decisions and we had a tremendous outpouring of support," said Jennifer Lister, Prescott parent.

Huberman issued a statement that said, "the school community at Prescott has put forth a variety of plans on how they would improve enrollment, and we are going to give them the opportunity to do that."

The statement also announced Huberman wants to spare Marconi Elementary from consolidation, at least for now, while administrators work to increase enrollment there.

Seven other schools on the closure list remain, however. And parents, students and staffers at those schools were still fighting Tuesday night. At Deneen Elementary they demonstrated on the 71st Street Dan Ryan overpass. And they got help from the Rainbow/PUSH coalition.

"We simply want to have a dialogue, not a monologue. This decision has been forced upon the parents at Deneen and we are protesting that decision and this process," said Jonathan Jackson, Rainbow/PUSH.

The Deneen school community is supporting a proposed moratorium on school closures making its way through City Council right now. The bill, however, would be symbolic, not legally binding.

But teachers union representatives went to court Tuesday afternoon to try to stop the school board from voting to close two of the schools Deneen and McCorkle which receive federal funding as part of the Teacher Advancement Program or TAP.

"Once the district announces they're going to close schools, the behavior of the children is impacted negatively," said Marilyn Stewart, Chicago Teachers Union president.

The judge denied the teachers' union's request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the board from closing the schools because he said the board has yet to vote. If they do vote to close the schools Wednesday as expected, the union can try again.