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CPS Closings: Courtenay, Stockton to Merge Under Courtenay's Name

 A Courtenay student speaks at a community forum held in April.
A Courtenay student speaks at a community forum held in April.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli (File)

RAVENSWOOD — When the Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close Stockton Elementary in Uptown, it also sealed the fate of Ravenswood's Courtenay Language Arts Center.

Though Courtenay was never on a list of potential school closings produced by the board, its campus at 1726 W. Berteau Ave. will be shuttered and students and staff moved to Stockton, where the schools will merge under Courtenay's name.

Courtenay, currently a lottery-based school that accepts students from across the city, will assume Stockton's status as a neighborhood school.

The change in enrollment policy proved the sticking point for many Courtenay parents, particularly those who live outside Stockton's attendance boundaries, the upshot being that younger siblings of students accepted into the old lottery-based Courtenay will have to register elsewhere.

"Transforming Courtenay into a neighborhood school slams the door shut on sibling preference. Having my children attend two, or eventually three, different schools is ludicrous and a hardship, like this entire proposal," said Mila Cohen, mother of a second-grader at Courtenay, speaking at a public forum held in April.

Courtenay parents continued to plead their case right up through Wednesday's board meeting, but ultimately the proposal to close Stockton, and thereby move Courtenay, was approved.

"The building doesn't make the school," Cassandra Vickas, a parent representative on Courtenay's Local School Council, said at a previous community hearing. "I don't see why our hard-working teachers and parents can't make it a great school."

The most pressing question now is who will lead the merged Courtenay.

Though Courtenay will be "in charge" of the new school, principal JoAnn Percel actually retired in 2012 and has been acting in a consultant capacity during the current school year, with help from assistant principal Tammy Lunetto.

Courtenay's Local School Council has been conducting a vigorous search for a new principal, but those efforts recently suffered a setback.

A principal selection forum, scheduled for Thursday, was canceled Wednesday via Facebook post. The message stated that one of the final candidates for the position had accepted an offer elsewhere.

Lacking consensus on the remaining finalists, "the LSC has decided to continue their search for the best candidate for principal of Courtenay Language Arts Center," the message concluded.