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CPS Closings: Public Meetings Set for Parkman Elementary

By Casey Cora | March 25, 2013 2:23pm
 Parkman Elementary School, 245 W. 51st St. in Fuller Park, is targeted for closure by CPS.
Parkman Elementary School, 245 W. 51st St. in Fuller Park, is targeted for closure by CPS.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

CHICAGO — Parents looking to learn more about the CPS plan to close Parkman Elementary school are encouraged to attend a series of public meetings hosted by the school district.

The community meetings are scheduled to take place 5-7 p.m. April 9 at Dunbar High School, 3000 S. King Drive, and 10 a.m.-12 p.m. April 13, also at Dunbar.

A public hearing on the school closures will be held 8-10 p.m. Friday April 19 at the CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark St.

Those wishing to speak at the meetings or hearing will have from one hour before the start of the meeting until one hour after the scheduled start time to sign up. Speakers will get two minutes, with a possible extension granted by the hearing officer.

Last week, CPS announced Parkman, 245 W. 51st St., had been targeted for closure, one of dozens of schools to be affected by the historic closings. The school district labeled Parkman as underutilized, with an enrollment of 231 but an ideal capacity of 570.

Beginning next year, CPS will expand its neighborhood boundaries will expand to include Sherwood Elementary, 245 W. 57th St., in Englewood, which will be designated as a "welcoming school" for Parkman students.

That's all contingent on the CPS board voting to approve schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett's closing recommendations. That vote is expected at the board's May 22 meeting.

According to CPS data, Sherwood is labeled underutilized with 312 students and an ideal capacity of 570. The school was a Level 2 school — in good academic standing — for the 2012-2013 school year, its first Level 2 designation in eight years. The school had previously been on Level 3, or probationary, status.

Although Sherwood is close to Fuller Park's Parkman — they're separated by six blocks — parents have expressed concern about sending their kids to Englewood, a neighborhood racked by poverty and gang violence.

To that end, CPS has pledged a number of safety measures, including providing "safe passage" workers to "monitor students’ safety during their travel to school in the morning and home in the afternoon," according to a draft transition plan.

CPS has also said it will help host “Fresh Start” activities, such as school visits, chats with welcoming school principals, picnics, field trips and parent meetings, to help merge the school cultures.

The school district will offer several programs to address students' academic needs, including designating a "principal transition coordinator," handing over test score and attendance data to Sherwood faculty and using money earmarked for tutoring or the hiring of an "instructional coach."

That decision will be made in consultation with Sherwood's principal and with community input and will need to be OK'd by the school's Network Chief. 

Teachers and faculty in affected schools will face a number of options, from firings to reassignments to severance.

For more information on CPS co-location, closing and turnaround meetings, click here.