KENWOOD — Hyde Park and Kenwood residents continue to make their case to keep Canter Middle School despite endless meetings with noncommittal Chicago Public Schools officials who offer new hoops to jump through.
On Monday, 25 principals, teachers, parents and community members met with the new head of schools for the neighborhood, Harrison Peters, about forming a community action council in the hopes that it can halt Canter’s closing.
“I can’t say that a community action council can stop it, but it has been a powerful voice for me as I go in and report to the Board [of Education,]” Peters said.
At an October Board of Education meeting, Hyde Park parents were told by board President David Vitale that forming the council could sway the board toward keeping the school at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. open.
“I don’t know if this is the answer to our concerns — Canter is my concern,” said Camille Hamilton-Doyle, who was helping organize the council quickly to get a proposal to the board.
For the Hyde Park group, the community action council was just the newest hoop to jump through.
CPS parent Joy Clendenning said residents tried to start a community action council in August 2012, but were told by CPS officials that no new councils were being formed.
Clendenning and others said Canter could play a key role in easing over-crowding at schools across the neighborhood, like Shoesmith Elementary School.
“They would like to not have mobile classrooms on their playground and would like to have space for a pre-kindergarten program,” Clendenning said of Shoesmith.
Peters was noncommittal about whether the Canter council could keep the school open, but said councils were helpful in organizing high school fairs and parent resource fairs during his last job as the Lake Calumet area chief of schools for CPS.
Peters started his new job overseeing Hyde Park schools on Monday after CPS reorganized its administrative team. He said he needed time to understand the issues before committing to anything.
“My goal is to be here as long as you’ll have me,” Peters said.
Peters may already have one foot out the door though. According to local news reports, he applied for two superintendent positions this year in Nevada and in Maryland, and he was criticized locally for checking his e-mail during meetings with parents at Morgan Park High School on the longer school day.
Peters told the group that a staff member who handles community action councils would be in touch with them in the next five days to finalize forming the council.