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Elementary School Could Lose All After-School Programs After Funding Cuts

By Benjamin Woodard | August 7, 2014 7:59am
 About 97 percent of Gale Math and Science Academy students come from low-income families. The area has been plagued by deadly gun violence.
About 97 percent of Gale Math and Science Academy students come from low-income families. The area has been plagued by deadly gun violence.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

ROGERS PARK — The programs before and after school at Gale Math and Science Academy could be canceled after CPS informed the school's principal that the grant used to pay for the programs would not be renewed.

A CPS official notified Principal Cassandra Washington of the news last week, said Kyle Hillman, a member of Gale's Local School Council.

Programs that will be canceled, unless other funding is found, include ballet, chess club, before-school tutoring, after-school reading and math tutoring, parenting workshops, parent resume and interviewing skills training, Saturday common core prep (grades 3-8), art club and the gardening and greenhouse club.

Hillman said the news was especially devastating after CPS cut more than $300,000 from the school's operating budget this year.

"It is unthinkable that with an uptick in crime in the neighborhood, we are now going to send more kids out on the street until a parent comes home," he said. "Chicago is just asking for more tragedies that these children shouldn't even be out on the street to witness, or worse, be in."

Of 440 students at Gale, 64.3 percent are black and 23 percent are Hispanic, while 96.8 percent come from low-income families, according to CPS data.

The neighborhood surrounding the school also has been plagued by deadly gun violence.

In 2012, the Illinois State Board of Education awarded a $1.5 million-a-year grant to nine schools, including Gale, Field and Kilmer elementary schools, according to state data.

The three-year 21st Century Community Learning Center grant is funded through the federal government with an intent to set up community centers in low-income communities.

A CPS official sent an email to Gale's principal on July 30 informing her that CPS would not be including Gale in its application for funding for this year.

A CPS spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment.

Mary Fergus, a spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education, said CPS' application for grant funding was due at 5 p.m. Monday — and until then she wouldn't know which schools CPS chose to request money for.

"At Gale Math and Science Academy, the 21st Century Grant money serves half of our student population with pre- and postschool programs, with additional programs targeting their parents," Hillman said. "A lot of these programs serve as bridges for parents who work and are unable to provide for oversight of the children."

The 2014-15 school year begins Sept. 2.

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