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With $116,000 Left in Closing School's Fund, Kids Could Get Free iPads

By Patty Wetli | June 9, 2013 8:21am | Updated on June 10, 2013 1:01pm
 Trumbull Elementary School's Local School Council makes preparations for the school's closing.
Trumbull LSC
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ANDERSONVILLE — Students at Trumbull Elementary School, which will close this month, could each get their own iPads and other goodies as part of a "success pack" if the school's outgoing  governing council has its way.

The Local School Council, which is being disbanded when the school is permanently shuttered at the end of June as part of Chicago Public School's mass school closing plan, decided to make the most of its final meeting late last week.

The gathering began with chairman James Morgan calling for a "moment of silence for the displaced students of Trumbull." The council then spent the next hour brainstorming ways to make the 390 youngsters' final days at Trumbull memorable ones.

Funds were approved for art workshops, field trips and a field day for the entire student body — complete with inflatables and cotton candy.

"We need to take this sad time and make it a happy time," Morgan said.

But the majority of the LSC's discussion centered on ways to disburse $116,000 raised by Trumbull teachers, parents and students and held in an internal account.

"My son sold candy bars for hours. This is our money," said Morgan, father to two Trumbull students. "It infuriates me it could go elsewhere."

"Better to spend it than have it go into a CPS black hole," agreed Mark Miller, a community representative on the council.

Contingent upon approval from CPS, the LSC settled on the idea of providing each student with a "success pack" consisting of a bookbag, t-shirt, books and an iPad or e-Reader.

Any remaining funds would follow Trumbull students to their new schools in the fall, said Principal Venus Shannon, who held back tears as she spoke.

"My heart just goes out to the staff," she said. "I wish I could have helped."

With just days left to tie up loose ends, the council was also scrambling to find a way to accommodate the scores of Trumbull almuni wishing to pay their respects to the school, which opened in 1909.

"We are getting a lot of alumni coming in," said Shannon, including one couple, married for 32 years, who met at Trumbull in third grade and starting dating three years later.

Diane Horwitz hadn't been back to Trumbull in 50 years. A dust-up over the fate of the school's historic murals — "salt in the wound" — prompted her to attend the LSC meeting for a last visit to her alma mater.

An adjunct faculty member at DePaul University's College of Education, Horwitz, who now lives in Evanston, said she's witnessed first-hand the demoralizing effect the school closings are having on the next generation of teachers.

"I am outraged at the closing of the school and the displacement of the students," she said. "I just feel that the policy of school closings is a political policy, not an educational policy. There should be more resources put into neighborhood schools."