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Brentano School Survival Leaves Parents Relieved, But Sad for Others

 Brentano Elementary Math and Science Academy, 2723 N. Fairfield Ave.
Brentano Elementary Math and Science Academy, 2723 N. Fairfield Ave.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Johnson

LOGAN SQUARE — As parents and supporters of Brentano Elementary School celebrated and congratulated each other for their efforts in keeping the school off the CPS closure list, there was still a sense of sadness.

After all, 54 schools across the city are still slated to be closed or consolidated.

"It was bittersweet. We're happy that we're staying open, but some of our families are going to be affected because of the school closings," said Rose Becerra, the school's Local School Council chairwoman.

Some of the Brentano parents have nieces and nephews at schools on the closure list, so the community outpouring for Brentano will now be directed to saving those schools, she said.

Kate Kindleberger, a Brentano LSC member and mother of a 2-year-old son who plans to send to the school, added, "We are so relieved about Brentano, but it's hard to feel like celebrating when 54 schools are proposed for closure."

Kindleberger said that though this fight has been won, there is more work to be done.

Brentano is still more than half empty, according to CPS standards, and is in on academic probation.

"We now need to actually get enrollment up and increase scores," she said.

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) also was vocal in his support for the school, which falls into his new ward boundaries.

He, too, said there is work to be done at the school, as well as other neighborhood schools.

"I was very happy to see that the parents teachers and community members were able to show CPS that the case for keeping Brentano open was very strong, and CPS discussions of closing it ran contrary to facts on the ground," he wrote in an email to DNAinfo.

"More importantly, Brentano has set itself on a trajectory for greater success and the community as a whole will greatly benefit. Brentano will also be coordinating with Darwin, Goethe and other schools to strengthen all Logan Square schools," Waguespack said.

The alderman was also dismayed over the school closings.

He and other members of the city council's Progressive Reform Coalition released a statement condemning the closures, noting that they disproportionately affect African-American and Latino children, and that it will leave "school deserts" in its wake.

"This plan, if implemented, will be the largest mass closing of public schools by any school district in the country," Coalition members wrote. "It has been opposed by tens of thousands of vocal involved parents, teachers and students, who have made the case for the vital roles their local schools play in maintaining education, stability, safety and resources in their communities."

Still, Becerra, like many other parents, could not help but let out a big sigh that her neighborhood school survived.

Her three adult daughters all graduated from Brentano and her 13-year-old son has attended the school since starting at the day care center there as a baby.

"That's been its home, basically," she said. "So to hear that it's going to stay open and that Brentano will be the name on the diploma, I'm just estactic."

And as Kindleberger summed it up, "We feel very lucky."