LINCOLN PARK — While heated discussions between two groups over how to solve Abraham Lincoln Elementary’s overcrowding problem continue, Chicago Public Schools officials are in talks with DePaul University to rent out university property as a temporary fix.
The short-term solution would allow the school to rent out space for eight classrooms at a university owned property about three blocks from Lincoln Elementary, according to Lincoln principal Mark Armendariz.
Armendariz said he received an email from a CPS official who said CPS is looking “in a serious way,” to use 759 W. Belden Ave., which would be enough space for 224 students at 28 students per classroom.
Although CPS expected Lincoln Elementary’s enrollment to continue to rise from its hugely overcrowded 809 enrollment during the 2011-2012 school year, this year’s enrollment dipped to 784 — still well above the ideal enrollment of 630. CPS lists the efficiency range for the school at between 504 students and 756.
Armendariz said he was on board with the proposed option, but admitted it would be difficult to schedule specialty classes such as art and music for students who would be at the off-site location.
The temporary plan for a fix comes more than a month after Lincoln’s Local School Council voted 10-2 to request that CPS build a second building on the Children’s Memorial Site that would allow the school to keep its boundaries and absorb incoming students, if the development on the Children’s site is built.
Despite a push to construct a $30 million school at the site that Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and the local school council both support, CPS has been mum on the issue of a long-term solution.
As Armendariz, CPS and Smith work to find a temporary solution to the overcrowding issue, the school council is looking for ways to gain the public’s support in backing the major push for a new school building.
The majority side of the school council’s vote in favor of the new school building is accusing the opposition group, which has sent out two anonymous emails to parents of the school, of spreading misinformation to stop the push for a new school.
“When we are sitting here with blankets to close off half the library and to tell them we are not overcrowded in unbelievable,” said Dan Klien, a school council member in support of the new building.
The school principal and school council members chided the anonymous emailers who used the school’s directory as heated arguments nearly turned into a yelling match at the local school council’s meeting Wednesday night.
“I reached out to both of these organizations asked for more information and would like to be in touch and received zero response,” said council member Jerry Quandt in support of a possible new school.