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CPS Closings: Paderewski Elementary Set to Shutter

By Chloe Riley | May 22, 2013 4:13pm
 Paderewski Elementary is scheduled to close after a CPS Board pf Education meeting Wednesday.
Paderewski Elementary
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SOUTH LAWNDALE — The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close Paderewski Elementary, the only school in the Pilsen-Little Village network up for possible closure.

Several Paderewski parents seemed almost apathetic at the end of the school day, saying they didn't know what their next steps would be.

Darlene Williams said she's noticed the lack of parent participation at the closures meetings over the past few months.

"I don’t have a clue as to why these parents haven’t stepped up," Williams said. "I am so livid and so hurt. It was just a heart wrenching feeling to actually know we are closing. I fought it to the end and I’m not through fighting."

Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22nd), who in the past has spoken out against the school's closure, also said he would continue the fight to keep Paderewski open.

"I'm obviously extremely disappointed. We're looking to see what our alternatives are. Those students need that place," Muñoz said.

Hearing Officer Patrick E. McGann’s report on the school concluded that utilization, rather than performance levels, was the deciding factor when deciding to shutter the almost 98 percent low-income school. 

Paderewski students enrolling in grades four through eight would attend Rosario Castellanos Elementary, a Level 2 school, while first- through third-graders would attend Lazaro Cardenas Elementary, which has the highest Level 1 rating from CPS.

Projected enrollment at both grammar schools would be ideal with the addition of Paderewski’s students, according to McGann’s findings.

In March, Paderewski Principal Alicia Lewis voiced concerns over her predominately African-American school being the only one in the 26-school network to remain on the list.

“Out of 26 schools, we’re the only school that’s majority African American,” she said at the time. “We don’t have an ax to grind, but we felt like, no pun intended, the black sheep of the network.” 

The heavily Hispanic Pilsen and Jungman grammar schools were originally on the CPS closure list. Structural costs to fix up the two schools are almost twice those at Paderewski.

According to CPS data, updating Jungman and Pilsen would cost $13 million and $15 million respectively. Paderewski, which just received updated security cameras, lights and a computer lab last year, would cost just under $7 million to fully update.