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CPS Closings: Courtenay Parents' Reactions Mixed About Merger With Stockton

 Courtenay Language Arts Center will be moving to Uptown and merging with Stockton Elementary in the fall.
Courtenay Language Arts Center will be moving to Uptown and merging with Stockton Elementary in the fall.
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RAVENSWOOD — Thursday morning's drop off at Courtenay Language Arts Center was much the same as every day — students, parents and staff rushing to meet the 7:45 a.m. starting bell — apart from the fact that the routine is about to come to a permanent end.

As part of the Board of Education's vote to close 50 Chicago Public Schools, Courtenay, at 1726 W. Berteau Ave., will relocate to Stockton Elementary in Uptown with the start of the 2013-14 school year.

"I'm OK with it," said Sonnie Atwood, whose son attends Courtenay. "Change is fine."

Students would benefit from the larger facilities, including a computer lab and auditorium, at Stockton, 4420 N. Beacon St., she said.

"It has the space these kids need," said Atwood.

Kevin Lusk, a parent of a Courtenay student, also approved of the board's efforts to close its budget gap by consolidating resources.

"It's the greatest move they ever made," he said.

Like Atwood, Lusk said he intended to send his son to the new Courtenay. "I'm looking forward to it."

By contrast, Shelly Llorens wasn't sold on the merger and was in the midst of filling out applications for her child to attend a different school come fall.

"Why mess with something that wasn't broke?" she said.

Llorens, who lives within walking distance of Courtenay, specifically chose the school because of its small enrollment, which translated into smaller class sizes than the typical CPS elementary school.

"That's the luster, I think," said Llorens.

Though it's unclear at this point what will become of Courtenay's facilities, which include a brand new playground, Ald. Ameya Pawar, whose 47th Ward is home to Courtenay, said he "made it clear Courtenay won't become a charter school. I made it clear I would not support that."

Pawar was one of only nine alderman to attend Wednesday's school board meeting and argue against the closings. In an earlier interview with DNAinfo.com Chicago, he expressed concern about the loss of stabilizing institutions in struggling neighborhoods.

"When you remove that, how do neighborhoods recover?" he said.

"Everywhere we turn, people just sold this city out," from the parking meter deal to the starving of neighborhood schools, in favor of charters, said Pawar.

"We're going to pay for that as well."