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Hinton Elementary Parents Say School Should Stay Open

By Wendell Hutson | February 18, 2013 1:30pm
 Cassandra Knowles travels each weekday by bus for 35 minutes to take her son to William Hinton Elementary School, 644 W. 71st St., from her South Chicago home.
Cassandra Knowles travels each weekday by bus for 35 minutes to take her son to William Hinton Elementary School, 644 W. 71st St., from her South Chicago home.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

AUBURN GRESHAM — If William A. Hinton Elementary School is closed by CPS, single father Steven Gregory said he doesn't know how he will afford to get his 6-year-old son to school each day.

"Man, I live around the corner. I don't have a car or extra money to be getting on the bus to take my son to school," said the 51-year old unemployed father, who raises the kindergartner on his own since his wife's death. "All I have to live on is the survival benefits my son gets from his mom being dead and that's not much."

Hinton is one of 129 schools being considered for closure by Chicago Public Schools this year due to underutilization, CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said.

And even though the school is in good academic standing, it is currently on probation, according to CPS data. The closest elementary school that's not on the list of schools being considered for closure is Parker Elementary Community Academy, which is a mile away at 6800 S. Stewart St.

While 93 percent of Hinton students live in low-income households, money is not the only concern parents have about the school's potential closure.

"These kids can't cross over past Halsted and go to school," Gregory said. "There are different gangs over on the other side. My son is a 'shortie' and I take him to school every day, but these seventh- and eighth-grade boys would get beat down if they try to go to another school."

Cassandra Knowles, 23, agrees.

"It's rough on the other side. I hope if they do close the school they provide transportation for the kids like they did at Fenger High School when new students were forced to go there after their school closed," Knowles said. "This is messed up because I didn't even know this school might close. No one told me."

Hinton Principal Pamela Brunson-Allen was unavailable for comment.

Knowles, who works as a customer service associate for a retail store, moved from Auburn Gresham to South Chicago on the Far Southeast Side.

"It is already rough bringing my son here on the bus from the East Side, now they want me to come even further, no way," Knowles said. "I might have to transfer my son to a school closer to where we live because I am not about to do all this running around in the morning to take him to school."

Hinton alumnus Shemaryah Mannie, 32, had hoped all three of her kids would graduate from Hinton too.

"My oldest daughter graduated from Hinton last year and I have a son in fourth grade and a daughter in seventh grade here," said Mannie, a single mother pursuing a bachelor's degree at Chicago State University.

"At first I had them in a charter school but they did not do too good ... once I transferred them here they improved in math and reading. And now, just when they are doing well in school, I might have to send them somewhere else for the third time. I'm definitely not feeling that."