Gale, Field Elementary Schools Safe From Closing

By Benjamin Woodard on February 13, 2013 7:03pm 

ROGERS PARK — Parents and teachers of two neighborhood elementary schools can rest easier knowing their schools were removed from a list of possible closures.

Chicago Public Schools released a pared down list of 129 schools still on the chopping block.

Gale and Field Elementary schools were not listed — but concerns remain.

"I'm happy for the parents of Gale," said education activist Tim Furman, who had organized parents and teachers at Gale Elementary to resist a school closure. "But we think any school closing is unjust."

"I fully intend to fight for the other schools."

Several options still remain, however, for the schools removed from CPS's list.

For example, Gale could be consolidated into one building and its campus shared with a charter school, said Kyle Hillman, a member of Gale's Local School Council.

“I'm still shocked it’s not on the list,” Hillman said, but he was worried CPS could still take action. "The good thing is that there won't be a hole there."

Hillman said a previous "town hall meeting" planned for Gale Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. would go on as planned.

School district officials would be in attendance to deal with a vocal and rowdy group of parents that had been disruptive at a public hearing about school closures on the North Side last month.

Furman, the activist who organized many of the parents, had said earlier that Gale, a school on probation with 496 students, had been mislabeled as "underutilized" by the district.

The Gale Local School Council held a meeting earlier in the day before the new list was announced.

Principal Cassandra Washington thanked those in attendance for supporting the school.

"I really appreciate everyone who came out," she said. "It was good to see our community come together. If we're not on that list, we still need to talk about getting resources for this side of Rogers Park — to level the playing field."

Bob Fuller, a Local School Council member at Field school, said he was still concerned about charter schools, such as Orange School, moving into the neighborhood and weakening existing schools.

"In the short term, I would say it's good news for the schools and good news for Rogers Park," he said. "The last thing we need is a shock to the system."

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