UPTOWN — The local school council at Mary E. Courtenay Elementary School elected a new chairwoman and four other council members on Thursday, after the departure of its former chairwoman and several members.
At a council meeting Thursday, Cassandra Vickus, a 47-year-old Albany Park resident, was nominated to lead the council and then voted in unanimously. She has two sons — a third-grader and a fifth-grader — at the school.
Courtenay parents Eugene DeRamos, Pete Winninger II, Melanie Bienermann and community representative Fidel Campos were also elected to the council.
Former chairwoman Romana Puenta stepped down earlier this fall after transferring her child to another school. And other former council members left when their children graduated from eighth grade, Vickus said.
"We're really happy," Vickus said. "The parents that have volunteered have been longtime Courtenay parents, and agreed to step up and they're interested in being very active with the school."
In May, among a slate of controversial closings and consolidations, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close the old Courtenay campus at 1726 W. Berteau Ave. in Ravenswood, and move its students and staff to the former Stockton building at 4420 N. Beacon St. in Uptown. The schools were merged under Courtenay's name.
Courtenay Local School Council community representative Matt Mahoney said the vacancies on the council have made the transition more difficult.
"The biggest thing is making sure we can all meet to address business in a timely manner," Mahoney said.
Vickus said the challenge hasn't been "too much" to overcome.
"But we really wanted to be able to continue working," she said.
The new council on Thursday voted to hire a full-time reading specialist and a full-time bilingual teacher. It also pledged to address a parking shortage at the building, which has more teachers than it did last year as a result of the merger. Members proposed reducing handicapped parking spaces and obtaining off-site parking.
Vickus said after the meeting that the council wasn't "really thrilled with the moving process."
They are still "getting all of our stuff from the other building," especially a lot of books and items from teachers' classroom, such as shelves.
She said in some cases, the council doesn't know if the items are somewhere at the old Courtenay, the new Courtenay — or missing.