CPS school closings community meetings held Saturday

April 6, 2013 8:14:06 PM PDT
The fight for the future of Chicago Public Schools took another turn Saturday as the administration held several public hearings at schools slated for closure.

The emotions were raw and the arguments on all sides powerful.

Another round of CPS community meetings discussing the plan to close more than 50 schools brought out passionate parents fighting for their kids.

Parents attending the latest round of CPS meetings want to know why their kids have to change schools when they don't believe it's underperforming.

"It has nothing to do with our performance," said parent Nikkia Pierce. "Academic-wise, King School is performing at the level it should be at."

On the West Side, another group, the Save Our Neighborhood Schools Coalition, are boycotting all of the CPS meetings, saying their tired of not being heard and call CPS' plan to close underutilized and under resourced schools racist.

"You have these White males in their ivory towers making these decisions," said activist Dwayne Truss. "Barbara Byrd-Bennet, we can't say anything about her other than she's a liar and a hypocrite."

The group has created their own plan for school consolidation, one they plan to present to school leaders.

One of the many concerns parents have about the closures is how their kids will get to their new school. Some have to cross into gang territories.

"I work full time. Just the thought that maybe my daughter is going to miss the bus and then she's going to have to walk there, there are abandoned buildings, people in there sleeping, it's very dangerous," said parent Nancy Pina.

But CPS says they have a safety plan in place, one that uses the Chicago Police Departments security plan during the NATO conference.

Longtime CPS advocate Leon Tinney has been fighting for parents and students for years. He says consolidation has to happen for kids to get a better education.

"If the schools don't close, and we're not able to close that billion dollar gap of underfunding in our schools, it's going to affect everybody and it could affect every parent in every school across the entire school system that could mean closures or it could mean increase in taxes," he said.

CPS says they will save over $600 million a year over the next 10 years with their closure plan.

Three-hundred fifty parents and community members came out to Saturday's CPS meetings.

The meetings continue on Monday.