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Woods Elementary Parent: City Should Fund Schools, Not New Stadiums

By Wendell Hutson | May 23, 2013 2:19pm
 Parents with children at Woods Math & Science Academy say they are concerned about the safety of their kids next school year since the Chicago School Board voted to close the Englewood elementary school.
Fearful Parents
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ENGLEWOOD —When Tabetha Cole learned Wednesday that Granville Woods Math & Science Academy was closing under a city effort to reduce costs, she immediately started looking into other schools for her two children.

"My son has autism so any school won't do for him," Cole said. "Kids with autism have a hard time adjusting to their surroundings. But now that my son has developed a good relationship with his teachers, CPS snatches them away and that pisses me off.

"This is my baby and nobody messes with my children."

The Chicago School Board voted at its Wednesday meeting to close Woods and 49 other schools it deemed underutilized.

Cole's 4-year-old son is in prekindergarten and her 9-year-old daughter, who also has a learning disability, is in the fourth grade.

"She ... needs extra help, which she is getting here," she said. "Do they know what I had to go through to find a school where my kids would feel safe and receive the extra attention they need? I hate how the system thinks it can do anything to our [black] kids."

In 2012, Cole relocated to Chicago from Madison, Wis., to be closer to relatives.

"When I moved back to Chicago, the schools were on strike, so I had to wait until it was over before I could get them in school. Now they want to close Woods down," she said.

Woods is set to close in June and students, based on their addresses, would attend Nicholson Technology Academy, Perkins Bass or Anna Langford Community Academy — three choices Cole and other parents say they dislike.

"I am not understanding why the city is closing schools but agreed to help build a basketball stadium for DePaul ...," said Joyce Bailey, 53, whose great-granddaughter is a first grader at Woods.

"Funny how there's no money when it comes to keeping schools open but there's money for all this other stuff. And she's smart as a whip, too," said Bailey.

Jimmie Cotton, a 69-year-old volunteer at Woods, has two great-grandkids who attend the school.

"I don't like any of the choices for our kids," said Cotton, an Englewood resident for 28 years. "This area around the school is safe. This is our comfort zone and once you remove kids from their comfort zone, that's when danger lurks."

Despite safety plans CPS rolled out for students affected by closures, Cotton said, "Only time will tell if the plan goes to hell."