Whittier parents meet with CPS CEO

October 20, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Parents at Pilsen's Whittier Elementary School met with Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman and other local politicians Wednesday. Parents say they went into CPS headquarters with open minds Wednesday morning.

Whittier parents want the field house near the school converted into a library because the school lacks one. However, CPS has offered to build one inside Whittier and lease the field house to a community group for $1 a year.

"There is no room in that school," Gonzalez said. "Ask to go inside and the people will see there is no room for a library."

Huberman has said that CPS' proposal is a good faith effort to continue the work they have completed on behalf of the students.

"Our demands are clear. We want a library that's sufficient enough for these students and has enough capacity for the amount of students that we have here, which is more than 400 students," said Evelin Santos, library advocate.

School executives have said no to renovating the field house, saying it is structurally dangerous. Parents have been sitting in the building for weeks to prevent it from being demolished.

"We are providing an updated proposal to the Whittier parent community. We think it satisfies all of the parents' requests. In fact, we think it gives students at Whittier even greater access to resources for reading, which is really what we're talking about here," said Huberman.

"With everything that we have already gone through and this being the 36th day today, I honestly hope they are not negative, you know, because I think we put already a proud stand. We stand here proud and we mean what we said," Whittier parent Araceli Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez was one of seven passionate advocates who was allowed into the closed-door meeting.

"I am one of the lucky ones," Gonzalez said. "I have to say I'm one of the lucky ones because it shouldn't be like this. The struggle is for a lot of moms. They're not allowed. We had to pick and that's hard."

On Monday, Whittier parents took their fight to the steps of CPS headquarters, demanding Huberman sign a letter granting their requests.

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