The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

CPS Closings: Students Say Goodbye for the Last Time

By  Adeshina Emmanuel Alex Parker  and Alisa Hauser | June 24, 2013 8:22am | Updated on June 24, 2013 3:21pm

 As CPS prepares to close 50 schools, students, parents and teachers are taking it hard.
Emotions run high as CPS schools close for good
View Full Caption

ANDERSONVILLE— Myles Kolama's entire family attended Trumbull Elementary in Andersonville, and the eighth grader was able to graduate just months after CPS voted to close the school.

Though the 14-year-old is finished with middle school, he said Monday morning that his graduation was bittersweet.

"[It] doesn't feel good," Kolama said. "I wanted my little sister to finish here, too. ... Everybody on my mom's and dad's side of the family has gone to Trumbull."

Trumbull is one of 20 Chicago public schools that will ring their final bells Monday as they close for good, part of the historic closures that will ultimately shutter 50 schools. Last week, 28 schools held their final classes.

The Chicago Board of Education voted to close the schools to help close Chicago Public Schools' $1 billion budget deficit. But as CPS officials have attempted to reassure parents — that their kids will be safe, that children will be going to better schools with better amenities — they've found an often unreceptive audience.

Parents and students have been active in opposing the closures — parents at Lafayette Elementary staged a sit-in, Trumbull Elementary parents filed a federal discrimination lawsuit and others protested the mayor's $55 million tax-increment financing overture to DePaul University for a new basketball arena.

Trumbull LSC Chair James Morgan said the council would continue to fight after school dismissed for the summer.

"It's been a rough year between the teacher's strike and the fight to keep the school open. It's all coming to a climax today," Morgan said Monday morning. "We've really worked hard to be the voice of the parents."

"We know this is a difficult time for some parents and students," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement after the Lafayette demonstration. "As we end this school year, it is time for us as a city to begin the work of creating a deep and lasting change in our schools to ensure our children are on a path to a bright future."

Due to the closures and budget cuts, CPS announced the layoffs of more than 850 teachers and staff, and introduced a new district-wide budgeting method that will require steep cuts at some schools.

Some schools will see their budgets slashed by much as $1 million. Amundsen High School will lose seven teachers and four staffers as it cuts its budget by $780,000. At Whitney Young High School, students may have to pay an additional $500 for seventh period classes. At Shoesmith Elementary, the principal cut the Spanish program so the school could afford toilet paper.

“These school closings destabilize the community, and the mayor doesn’t seem to care,” said Sonia Ott, a 25-year teaching veteran who joined last week's protest. “I don’t trust the government right now.”

At Peabody Elementary, 1444 W. Augusta Blvd., Ashley McCall, a first-year second-grade teacher who was one of five non-tenured teachers laid off, said students spent part of last week helping to carry boxes and pack up textbooks in classroom.

"It felt like what little time we had left with students was not for students, it was for CPS," she said.

Louis Quinones, or Mr. Q as kids call him, so far is only Peabody School faculty to have a permanent job lined up for next year.

Quinones, who has worked security at the West Town school for 17 years, will join another full time security worker at Peabody's welcoming school, Otis.

"I am one of the lucky ones. I am very relieved but it is bittersweet, unfortunate for the others. It's all about family here and they are breaking up a family," he said.

Of the 18 teachers at Peabody, five non-tenured (all first and second year teachers) got pink slips. The other 13, including principal Federico Flores, are not sure where they will be working next year. CPS is expected to let them know by July 15.

To mark the day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in a statement, said, "We congratulate our kids on a great year and look ahead with determination and optimism for what next school year and them many that follow have to offer our children."

"From the longer school day to all day kindergarten to increasing investments in our welcoming schools, we are working hard on behalf of our children to get them what they need to succeed in life," Emanuel said.'