Ogden School parents want better recess space

April 20, 2012 9:52:05 AM PDT
Some Chicago parents will meet school officials over concerns about where their children spend recess.

At issue is a play area students at the Ogden International School on the near North Side call "the cage."

The structure is on the roof of the school and it's where as many as 175 elementary school students play at the same time.

"It's a big metal cage with a quiet area," said fifth-grader Hayden Covello. "So the cage is black and if you sealed off the two ways you can get in, everybody would be stuck.

Some students called the "cage" a depressing empty box that is in desperate need of slides or swing sets.

Many parents agree the space is inadequate despite the $51 million revamp of the urban school, which is situated in the heart of the Gold Coast. They are especially concerned since next year all city schools will switch to a longer school day and will require some form of recess.

They were planning on holding a rally at a park across the street Friday, where they believe children could have some green space until CPS said they would meet with kids and parents Friday afternoon.

"CPS public schools are going to bring personnel out to interview the kids from grades three through six and hear their issues and their complaints," said Hayden's father, Nichollas Covello.

Mike Johnson has a fifth-grade son at Ogden. He can see "the cage" from his high-rise apartment window on Walton Street. Johnson said while the brand new building, which opened in the fall is beautiful, the architectural plan should have included play space.

"It is important to have somewhere to play and get a little exercise and release a little stress and this is a good school with high academic standards, they need that release," Johnson said.

CPS officials said they are working with many different schools that have limited space to provide recess. They do say that city parks could be part of the solution.