CITY HALL — A city planning commission tabled plans to build a new charter school in Belmont Cragin after parents and education activists blasted the proposal.
Activists from the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, Action Now and Voices of Youth in Chicago Education attacked what they called a diversion in Chicago Public Schools funding from neighborhood schools to charter schools.
Protesters cited $1.2 million in budget cuts at Prosser High School, three blocks from a lumber yard that is the proposed site of a new Noble high school in Belmont Cragin. They asked the Plan Commission to deny the application to rezone the site for school use.
Without debate, the Plan Commission voted Thursday to defer the proposal for a month to give the community more time to consider it.
"They're actually listening to the community," said Isela Garcia, a Belmont Cragin resident. "We're happy that they're taking the time to reconsider."
Yet, she quickly added that activists would not be satisfied with a monthlong delay, saying, "We want to deny it, not postpone it."
Protesters also drew attention to what they called Noble's "predatory" discipline system of fines, accusing the charter network of assessing almost $400,000 in fines over the last five school years.
"I am warning all parents," said Marsha Godard, an Action Now member who has previously gone public with fines her son ran up while a Noble student. "Don't be a victim of predatory education."
Noble did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Garcia said this year's cuts at Prosser and nearby Steinmetz High School totaled $2.8 million and accounted for 28 lost positions at the two schools.
"We strongly urge you to table the proposed plan by Noble Network," Voice of Youth said in a statement.
Whether swayed by the public pressure or not, the Plan Commission did exactly that Thursday.