AUSTIN — After 100 years on the West Side, Horatio May Elementary Community Academy is one of the more than 50 schools slated to close, school employees said.
With officials from the Chicago Public Schools expected to announce Thursday which schools they want to close as part of a citywide cost-cutting move, some schools have already learned their fate.
Staff at May Academy, 512 S. Lavergne Ave., declined to comment further on the matter, but parents said Thursday they were surprised to hear the news.
"I'm surprised just because the building's been around for so long," said Ray Polk, whose daughter is a fifth grade student at May Academy. "I went to this school, back in 1969, the year after [Martin Luther] King was killed."
Polk said he plans to send his daughter, Tarayven Polk, to KIPP Create, a nearby charter school. Polk said he has been planning to move his daughter there before he heard the talk of school closings this year. Tarayven said Thursday that is fine with her.
"I want to leave," Tarayven said. "They got broken things in there. Half the computers don't have a mouse or a keyboard."
According to CPS numbers, 473 students are enrolled at May Academy, which serves kindergarten through eigth grade. Polk said he understands schools like May Academy may be underpopulated, but he said he does not think closing schools is the way to go.
"There may not be enough kids in the classroom now, but what happens when there are 35, 40 kids in the same classroom?" he said. "That don't solve nothing.
"If they don't understaff the schools, then it'll be OK with me," he said.
Alex King is the head coach for the Chicago Chargers Youth Football program. Standing outside May Academy, King said about 20 of his players come from the school. The team practices nearby, and King said moving the kids to different schools will make it harder for his players to get to practice.
"The kids probably feel like people are just giving up on them," King said. "They could have done a lot of other things rather than close the school."
Michael Willis, another coach for the Chicago Chargers, said he believes the decision had something to do with the city's charter schools.
"I'm not sure if they're trying to close these schools down and make them all charter schools or what," Willis said.
"They're trying to get rid of the [teachers] union," he said.