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Fight to Save Trumbull Ramps Up in Andersonville

 Lyman Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 N. Ashland Ave.
Lyman Trumbull Elementary School, 5200 N. Ashland Ave.
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Trumbull School

ANDERSONVILLE — Business groups are launching an awareness campaign for Lyman Trumbull School, and have designated Thursday as "Andersonville Loves Trumbull Day" to kick things off.

“We’re working on our end to promote to the businesses an understanding of what it means to have a community school in our back yard,” said Colleen O’Toole, managing director of the Andersonville Development Corp.

Trumbull would close under a Chicago Public Schools plan. Next week, CPS will begin the last round of community meetings where supporters can speak out against the plan.

Organizers are asking teachers, families and supporters of Trumbull to visit the commercial district from 3-5 p.m. on Thursday to spend time talking to business owners about why Trumbull should stay open.

O’Toole said the event also calls for business owners to write letters to CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th) urging them to keep the school open. O'Toole and Ellen Shepard, executive director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, wrote a letter to community members in March calling Trumbull "an important economic driver" and seeking support.

Trumbull Local School Council member Ali Burke met last week with Andersonville business leaders seeking help in the LSC's fight to save Trumbull.

Burke, who lives in the neighborhood and has children at the school, said she didn’t just want Andersonville's thriving business community to know Trumbull is at risk of closing. She wanted them to understand "how this is really going to affect them.”

Business leaders were on board with the plan. Shepard and O'Toole said decreased foot traffic to and from the school will hurt local businesses, and that leaving the nearly 100,000-square-foot building vacant will be an eyesore for neighbors and a bane to property values.

Communities across the city are worried about what happens to school buildings closed by CPS. School district officials said CPS is still trying to sell buildings vacated after school closings last year.

O’Toole said Trumbull, one of the oldest structures in the neighborhood, is a community institution that is “part of our commercial historic district in Andersonville.”

CPS plans to close Trumbull despite steady opposition from parents and staff at the school who say the underutilization tag slapped on the building as a reason for its closure ignores space requirements for special education students.

"It’s just one of those things that blows your mind about city government,” O’Toole said. “What led us here, I can't really say. CPS has its own calculations and utility rates. I think that if this was their plan all along, we’re fighting an uphill battle.”