LINCOLN PARK — Parents, neighborhood residents, teachers and students took to the mic again Monday night in a plea to save George Manierre Elementary School from closing.
This time, many parents who already spoke out at a community meeting last week turned away from the stage to face the audience — specifically Chicago Board of Education member Henry Bienen, who sat in the crowd in Lincoln Park High School's theater.
Addressing Bienen, Manierre parent Johnnie King asked: "Are you going to visit Manierre in the next 15 days before we go downtown?"
King, a single father of two daughters who go to Manierre, joined other parents asking Bienen if he planned to visit their school before the the final public hearing on closing Manierre, which will be held at CPS headquarters.
Bienen at first said he would visit the school, but wasn't sure when. He later backed off that statement.
He did say he would share the parents' concerns with the rest of the board.
"Obviously, there are many concerns about safety," he said. "They are very serious issues. Obviously, these are not easy decisions to make."
CPS plans to close Manierre, 1420 N. Hudson Ave., and send its students to Jenner Elementary Academy of the Arts, at 1119 N. Cleveland Ave. in River North.
Many of the parents who spoke Monday night were making their third or fourth appearance at a public meeting over Manierre. They expressed concern about sending their children to Jenner, another underperforming school, instead of a high-performing school like nearby magnet schools such as Newberry Math and Science Academy and LaSalle Language Academy.
Unlike the first community meeting on closing Manierre, the panel of CPS moderators let people exceed their allotted two minutes to speak. It was possibly the last time parents of Manierre students and community members could voice their opinion before the closing is finalized.