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Gale, Field Elementary Schools Safe From CPS Action For Now

By Benjamin Woodard | March 21, 2013 7:02pm

ROGERS PARK — Gale and Field elementary schools were spared when the Chicago Public Schools released announced its final recommendation of closures, turnarounds and mergers.

"At least for another year we know we’re safe," Gale Principal Cassandra Washington said Friday morning.

The schools were removed last month from the list of schools that could be closed — to the jubilation of neighborhood parents and teachers who turned out in force to protest potential closures at neighborhood meetings.

On Thursday, 54 schools were recommended for closure. Andersonville's Trumbull Elementary would be closed under the proposal.

Although safe from closing for now, both Field Elementary and Gale Elementary parents and staff worried their schools could be a target for "turnaround," in which the school's staff is fired and administrators start from scratch in an effort to improve student performance.

Josh Hartwell, chairman of Gale's Local School Council, said he hadn't heard during the day of any impending action.

"No news is good news," he said.

Several groups in Rogers Park — including Occupy Rogers Park, Rogers Park Neighbors for Public Schools, and Northside POWER — have organized demonstrations and rallies in the past few months, even marching on Ald. Joe Moore's (49th) front lawn in protest of charter schools.

Speculation has swirled that Orange School, an arts-based charter approved by CPS in January, could come to the neighborhood.

Some thought Gale, which has two buildings near Howard Street, would be an ideal location to share space with a charter.

But details of where Orange will go have yet to be determined.

Moore said he supports a temporary moratorium on charter schools for the next school year, but wouldn't resist a qualified charter opening in the neighborhood.

"Why shouldn't low-income families in my neighborhood have the same kind of educational options for their kids that middle- and upper-income families enjoy?" he said last week after protesters planted 582 yellow flags, representing students enrolled at Gale, in his front lawn.