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Edgebrook School Wins Special Ed Appeal, Top Rating

By Heather Cherone | November 4, 2015 5:30am
 Edgebrook Elementary School
Edgebrook Elementary School
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

EDGEBROOK — Edgebrook Elementary School will not lose two special education teachers and two special education aides, Principal Chad Weiden said in a letter to parents.

Chicago Public Schools officials had announced at the end of September that they planned to lay off more than 70 special education teachers and aides in an effort to save $12 million.

Edgebrook Elementary School, 6525 N. Hiawatha Ave., had been slated to lose two teachers and two aides as part of the cuts, but Weiden appealed that decision and was successful.

The cuts prompted an outcry from parents, teachers and principals, who said the cuts would make it impossible for schools to meet the requirements of each student's specialized education plan.

Chicago Public Schools communications officials declined to make Weiden available for an interview about the school's special education services and its budget.

Weiden said the school was not only celebrating the successful appeal of those cuts, but also the school's rating for the second year in a row as one of the best schools in CPS.

Edgebrook Elementary earned a Level One-Plus rating, the highest a school can achieve. The district says schools rated Level One-Plus are "nationally competitive schools" that can help struggling institutions implement "best practices."

"Such a rating would not be possible without the mind, heart and effort of our students, parents and faculty," Weiden wrote to parents.

However, Weiden said the school's celebration of both the restoration of four special education positions and its top rating were tempered by the looming financial crisis facing the district.

Chicago Public Schools officials are threatening to lay off 5,000 teachers if state lawmakers don't give the district $500 million that has been budgeted by CPS, but not yet authorized by the General Assembly.

Weiden asked parents of Edgebrook students to write state lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner and urge them to resolve the months-long impasse and pass a budget that includes the funds CPS needs to balance its budget.

"Large, mid-year cuts would do significant harm to Edgebrook Elementary School," Weiden wrote. "This could include possible classroom teacher cuts. Quite simply put, we will not be able to continue to be a successful Level One-Plus school if we are forced to cut positions in the middle of the school year."

The school would no longer be able to offer physical education, music, technology, art and theater classes, Weiden wrote.

In addition, Chicago Teachers Union officials warned its members to begin preparing for a strike as leaders took a step toward authorizing a walkout with a practice vote set for Thursday.

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