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Whitney Young Students Say 'No Thanks' to $500 Class Fee

By Chloe Riley | June 21, 2013 9:50am
 Whitney Young Magnet High School Principal Joyce Kenner is considering a $500 fee for students to cover a budget shortfall.
Whitney Young Magnet High School Principal Joyce Kenner is considering a $500 fee for students to cover a budget shortfall.
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Whitney Young High School

NEAR WEST SIDE — Whitney Young students were less than thrilled about potentially being charged $500 for a seventh period next year due to more than $1 million in cuts to the school's budget.

Students would pay $500 if they wanted more than six class periods, with fee waivers for students who can’t afford the cost, Principal Joyce Kenner proposed in a letter sent to parents and faculty Wednesday.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” junior Stephanie Murillo said Thursday after school. “We’re upset about it. We want to have all of our seven classes.”

Sydney Erskin, who will be a sophomore at Whitney Young next year, said she thought the fee didn’t belong in public schools

“I think it’s like, giving other people that have the money the opportunity to get ahead, just because they can afford it. I think it [education] should be given to everyone,” she said.

Technically, students who opted out of seventh period next year would still get all the credits needed to graduate. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s longer school day gives Whitney Young students the chance to take an additional class at the end of the day.

Whitney Young art teacher and Chicago Teachers Union representative Susanne McCannon said it’s that additional time — without the funds to back it up — that hurts schools like Whitney Young. 

“Our students are basically going to be forced to take study halls or pay for a seventh class,” she said. “If it’s supposed to be a longer school day, why are we keeping them in school for a study hall, why don’t we just have them have a shorter day?”

Parent and Chicago police officer Ruben Salcedo has a son who’s going to be a junior at Whitney Young.

He said while he’s concerned about the potential fee, he figures that at Whitney Young, he’s getting an education equal to one at St. Ignatius College Prep where one year’s tuition would cost more than $15,000.

“I get the same education here at Whitney Young for my son and not have to pay that astronomical tuition. Do I want to pay a fee? Of course not. But will I pay it? Of course,” Salcedo, 60, said.